INDEPENDENT NEWS

Labour blasts Govt fishing betrayal

Published: Mon 23 Aug 1999 06:43 PM
Labour fisheries spokesperson Jim Sutton has strongly rejected Fisheries Minister John Luxton's claim that a controversial measure - designed to enable the government to remove up to 20 per cent of fishing rights from permit holders without compensation - has been deferred because of "insufficient time to give proper consideration to the issues".
The permit holders' reductions are to allow 20 per cent of the fishing quota created when additional species are added to the quota management system to be given to Maori free of charge, in line with the Treaty settlement.
"The government has given unequivocal assurances to permit holders for many years that compensation would be provided. These promises were kept when Foveaux Strait oysters were added to the QMS a couple of years ago," Mr Sutton said.
"But faced with spending up to $13 million to bring in the rest of the species listed in Schedule 4 of the Fisheries Act, the price of integrity has proved to be too high for the government.
"The issues are clear. They don't need further consideration. All that is needed is for the government to front up with its decision, so voters know what National really stands for."
Mr Sutton said deferring the announcement of National's decision would not save a single minute of parliamentary time, as the Fisheries Amendment Bill would still proceed with its other, less politically sensitive parts.
"National has made a decision to remove 20 per cent of permit holders' livelihood without compensation. A bill has been introduced to give effect to a decision which is now seen to be a betrayal. To try now to create the impression that they may pay compensation after all is deliberately misleading."
Mr Sutton said that Maori had indicated strongly that they did not want their Treaty claim settled with quota which had in effect been stolen by the Crown.
"To settle one grievance by creating another would make Maori the meat in the sandwich, and undermine future co-operation in managing the fishery. All previous acquisitions of quota by the Crown for Treaty settlement purposes have been at fair market value and to reneg now, when the job is 95 per cent complete, is pathetic."
Labour would negotiate with fishers in good faith to secure a fair solution, Mr Sutton
said.

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