Updated 1 Nov 2016
Below is what I wrote in August 2015.
I changed it on the RFC website, because it seems it was being misinterpreted by some.
I am leaving it here in its original form but with this added interpretive note.
As I stated in this post, various members of the board have continued their activity, but the board was not meeting regularly, and the organisation had failed to reach a quorum, and while the Future Search process was underway as an attempt to get a new representative model working, there was little energy left on anyone’s part to reactivate the RFC, so it was essentially in “parked mode”, with a few of us continuing to do what we can in a purely voluntary role.
I find myself in this caretaker role as I am still president of the Kaikoura Boating Club, and our constitution requires us to be members of the NZ Recreational Fishing Council.
In the 10 years I have been involved in the council, I have observed many instances of people using different paradigms coming into conflict through differing interpretations at several levels.
To me that seems very unfortunate.
I seem to be able to communicate with all parties individually, but have been unable to open communication channels between parties directly.
During the period I was given a terminal cancer diagnosis, so I have been doing my best to avoid stressful situations, for personal survival reasons.
For the last year or so there have been discussions about the possibility of restarting the NZRFC with an updated constitution more aligned to meetings in virtual rather than physical space.
To me, it makes sense to have all groups within the recreational sector communicating and developing a consensus approach to a way forward.
Right now, I’m not at all sure that is a likely outcome.
And it is the only outcome I am willing to put any serious energy into.
My club did seriously look at the Sport Fishing Council, and it is not a strong fit to our club. Most of our members are not interested in trophies and line weights, just in getting and maintaining access to the ocean and its continued bounty. Sport fishing is a perfectly valid interest set, it just isn’t the interest set of the majority of our club members. Our committee and AGM rejected joining the Sports Fishing Council.
So that is where things are now.
The RFC exists.
It has filed the returns required of it by law.
Members who were democratically elected to its board continue in the roles they were elected to, and there have been no elections for a while.
So the organisation has a strong democratic base, and it is not currently refreshing itself through a democratic process.
So if you are still interested in reading what I wrote a year of so ago, please do so in this context, rather than any other sort of context.
[original message follows]
Message from President Ted Howard.
The NZRFC is essentially a non-functional organisation at present.
Since Geoff resigned and as vice president I became president, I have been unable to get a quorum to attend any meeting of the executive.
Some of us have continued our advocacy roles, yet the organisation as such is not functioning.
I have been unable to get a list of member organisations.
I have attended 2 meetings of the Crayfish Science working group in Wellington, and 3 meetings of the Marine Amateur Fisheries Working Group in Auckland, and one meeting of the NRLMG CRA5 review in Blenhiem.
I have over that period attended the regular monthly meetings of the Kaikoura Boating club (as president), the irregular monthly meetings of Te Korowai o te Tai o Marokura (as treasurer), and the 3 weekly meetings of Our Fishing Future (occasionally as convenor and acting secretary). All of these roles are voluntary, and take significant time.
It seems that most of the energy that is available from the volunteers involved is going into other bodies which we are all active in. The NZRFC put a lot of effort into setting up the Future Search process, and into the body that emerged from that “Our Fishing Future”.
In 2014 the AGM of the RFC failed by 1 to reach a quorum of 26.
In 2015 three attempts by me to create a meeting of the executive to call an AGM failed to raise a quorum, so we could not even call an AGM, let alone achieve a quorum at one.
The secretary has resigned (which I fully understand – thank you Bruce for your efforts), and while I see great need for a functioning democratic coordinating body to represent the interests of ordinary recreational fishers nationally, none such exists at present. I have democratic mandate from the Kaikoura Boating Club for my role, but little more.
There are many issues.
The snapper 1 situation around Auckland demonstrates the almost total lack of integrity present.
It seems that most people would rather pretend fictions than deal with realities (that is usually the way in complex situations).
People keep pretending that there is a reasonable chance of the average fisher catching a bag of snapper. That is clearly untrue.
The recreational catch needs to be constrained to about 5,000 tons per year. That is about 9 million 600g fish. With an acknowledged half million people out there trying to catch a fish at least 3 times in any one year, and many of them much more frequently, that means that on average there are only 18 fish per fisher per year. If we ever have abundant fish in the inshore, even a bag limit of 1 fish per person per day would not be low enough to constrain the catch within available limits. Active fishers would need to accept a limit of around 20 fish per year. If half the population decided to go fishing, that limit might need to come down as low as 5 fish per person year (not per day, per year).
The move to a 30cm minimum legal size was a way of ensuring that most of those who fish from shore would rarely be able to catch a legal sized fish, while those who could afford big boats and lots of fuel would be able to continue to catch lots of fish out deep.
Somehow, that just doesn’t seem fair to me. I certainly never saw it stated as such.
The other major pretence is that fish don’t interact with each other, and can be managed separately.
On land, farmers manage stock units. Any farmer knows that if you have a paddock that can support 10 dairy cows, it will probably support about 12 beef cows or 70 sheep. If you try and put 10 dairy cows and 12 beef cows and 70 sheep in the paddock, after a little while they will all be looking a bit skinny, and a while later most of them will be dead (you might have one or two animals survive, the rest will starve to death).
Government has recently approved an expansion of mussel farming to a harvest of mussels that is about 10 times the total take from the Gulf of all other species of fish combined. Somehow, these people have been able to keep a straight face and mouth the fiction that it will have no impact on other species. This I fail to comprehend. But then what would I know. I’m only a guy with a degree in marine ecology, 17 years experience commercial fishing in the Hauraki Gulf, and 50 years experience as a recreational fisherman throughout the country.
The real irony, is that having been told over 5 years ago that I was terminal cancer, and that there was nothing known to medical science that could extend the probability of my survival, I started looking really closely at what data is available. Actually there is a lot of data that says if you have more than 10% of your calories coming from animal products (that includes fish, they are animals) your cancer risk is high. I went strict vegan, and high dose vitamin C, and I have been tumour free for 4 and a half years. I was a hunter and a fisherman for 55 years – eating meat and drinking milk most meals. I am now clear that animal products and refined foods (including and added sugar) in our diet is responsible for most of the cancer, heart disease, and diabetes we have in society.
But we have a dairy industry and a beef industry and a fishing industry that really don’t want people knowing that eating animal products really isn’t good for health. The interests of money are clearly far more important to government than the interests of the health and well-being of individuals in the population.
We live in a system where the interests of money trump everything else.
I want to live in a system where the life and liberty of every individual are the highest values. The evidence is clear beyond any shadow of reasonable doubt that valuing human life means eating a diet that is at least 90% fresh fruits and vegetables, with as little pesticides as possible.
So I don’t even eat fish any more.
And I certainly did, for a long time, until I was faced with rapidly growing cancer and 6 weeks to live.
I really wanted to live. I gave up all my favourite foods, all added sugars, all animal products. Not easy, and I am far healthier as a result.
Sometimes it is very strange what actually happens to us in life.