Who should we consult to preserve our fish stocks? Oh yes – the people who saved the moa

Ha – that hoary old chestnut about bringing back traditional methods of conservation was served up again just before Christmas.

Alf damned near gagged on his whisky, down at the Eketahuna Club, when he heard a Radio NZ item on the subject of fish conservation (here).

An international environmental organisation says Maori and Polynesian cultures hold the key to conserving fish species in the Pacific Ocean.

The outfit in question is the PEW Environment Group, the conservation arm of The Pew Charitable Trusts, whose members aim to help meet what they regard as one of the seminal challenges of our time: saving the natural environment and protecting the rich array of life it supports.

According to its website (here) –

Pew’s environmental activities have grown steadily over the past two decades, as has our staff of scientists, campaign advocates, economists, communications professionals and attorneys throughout the United States and in Canada, Europe, South America, Australia, New Zealand, the Western Pacific and the Indian Ocean.

Dunno how they got them together in an environmentally friendly way, but the PEW Environment Group recently hosted a delegation from Rapanui or Easter Island, which appealed to the New Zealand Government to help them protect the ocean from pollution and illegal fishing.

The item which attracted Alf’s attention made no mention of appeals to other governments, a matter of great puzzlement.

Anyway, the group’s New Zealand director, Bronwen Golder, is quoted as saying the PEW has identified areas in the Pacific Ocean considered to be at risk.

These include New Zealand’s Kermadec Islands

… but Maori and Pasifika people already have the solutions.

Ms Golder says it’s about going back to traditional methods of conservation.

She says the values of the Rapanui people and Maori are critical to saving the ocean space and her group’s agenda.

Those would be the values that saved the moa from extinction…

Oh, wait. The moa didn’t make it.

Then there are those splendid conservationists among Maori who – unlike the rest of us – have the privilege of being able to exercise customary rights to catch kai.

You can find several mentions of these people on the Ministry of Primary Industries website, such as the gentleman mentioned here.

A Tauranga man who took 40 undersized paua from the Mount Maunganui area has been fined $3500 and told to get his hands off the shellfish.

Lawrence Watene Rota, a 43-year-old forklift operator from Gate Pa, received the fine and the instruction today when he appeared before Judge Ingram in the Tauranga District Court.

Rota was caught on the walking track at the base of Mount Maunganui in February after Fishery Officers received a call on the Ministry’s 0800 4 POACHER line.

Mr Rota – the PEW people need to know – was unable to distinguish one species from another and perhaps can’t size up paua well enough to know what is legal and what is not.

Despite claiming to only have kina in his backpack, Rota was found to have 40 paua, all of which were smaller than the minimum legal size of 125 millimetres (the paua ranged in size from 124 millimetres to just 74). The legal daily maximum for legally sized paua is 10 per person.

Nor did he seem grateful for having his anti-conservationist carry-on pointed out to him.

After being discovered with the paua, Rota became aggressive and abusive towards the Fishery Officer and the police were called to help deal with him.

When questioned, Rota claimed he did not know the rules on collecting paua. He also said he had not seen the large fisheries information sign featuring the paua regulations, past which he must have walked to get to his dive area at the base of Mount Maunganui.

This was the second time Rota had been caught breaking the paua regulations; in 2005 he received a $250 infringement notice after being caught with seven undersized paua.

Ms Golder doubtless will be recruiting Mr Rota and the umpteen other indigenous folk who have been caught with too much paua in their tucker bags.

They can show the rest of us how best to sustain our fish stocks.

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One Response to Who should we consult to preserve our fish stocks? Oh yes – the people who saved the moa

  1. robertguyton says:

    Follow traditional Pacific islanders’ management regimes for fishing? Preposterous! Think of the moa!!!
    Far better to use the methods employed by Europeans, under whom there have been no species extinctions…
    …hang on!

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