Thursday, April 25, 2024

Landmark Māori fisheries agreement reaches 30th year

New Zealand has marked the 30th anniversary of the Fisheries Deed of Settlement.

Parliamentary Under-Secretary to the Minister for Oceans and Fisheries, Rino Tirikatene says the milestone of a “truly historic partnership that has helped transform communities” is to be celebrated.

“The agreement between the Crown and Māori righted past wrongs, delivered on the Crown’s treaty obligations, and set a platform for Māori to realise the potential of their fisheries taonga,” said Mr Tirikatene.

“In addition partnering in managing New Zealand’s fisheries, Māori are now key players in fisheries, owning approximately 40 per cent of commercial fisheries, 100% of customary fisheries and making up a good proportion of the recreational fishing sector.”

He said the agreement was globally unique in that it recognises Māori rights to manage their customary fisheries and as partners in the management of New Zealand’s fisheries.

“We can look back over many successes in the past, and recognise this is an enduring relationship, one that will continue to grow and evolve over time,” Mr Tirikatene said.

Negotiations on the fisheries settlement coincided with the sale of fishing company Sealord, providing an opportunity for Māori to acquire a part of this business and its quota as part of the settlement.

In addition, the agreement delivered:

  • regulations to enable tangata whenua to autonomously manage their customary fishing activities;
  • recognition of the special relationship between tangata whenua and important customary fishing grounds;
  • allocation to Māori of 20 percent of all new species entering the Quota Management System for commercial fishing;
  • representation of Māori on statutory fisheries entities; and importantly an ongoing relationship between Māori and the Crown in the management of fisheries;
  • changes to legislation to require the input and participation of tangata whenua into fisheries sustainability processes.

The agreement has had a transformative effect on communities by enabling iwi and hapū to manage their own fishing rights, Mr Tirikatene said.

“It will leave a long-lasting legacy for future generations to enjoy the traditions and way of life of their tūpuna. Not only does this create jobs in our communities for both Māori and non-Māori, it also contributes to Aotearoa New Zealand’s seafood exports worth more than $1.5 billion to our economy annually.”

The introduction of customary and kaimoana regulations that followed, have resulted in more than 700 kaitiaki managing customary fisheries nation-wide.

“It is my privilege as the current Parliamentary Under-Secretary to the Minister of Oceans and Fisheries to continue the mahi I have been previously involved with and build on this relationship. I look forward to how this evolves as we work together to protect and enhance fisheries for the future,” he said.

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