Fish and Game Review Proposals Undemocratic

Hunters and fishers would largely be deprived from participation and management of their sports body, NZ Fish and Game, if recommendations contained in a recently released Government-instigated review of their organisation are adopted, states the New Zealand Federation of Freshwater Anglers (NZFFA).
“It takes out the heart of ‘user-pays/user says’,” says NZFFA president Dr Peter Trolove.
The review proposes control being passed to the Minister of Conservation and the Department of Conservation (DOC).
“This so-called ‘independent’ review, called for by former Minister of Conservation, Eugenie Sage, highlights a glaring conflict of interest within a government department in which many see their role solely as conservators of New Zealand’s indigenous species – while condemning trout and salmon as ‘introduced predators’. Ironically DOC has a very poor record in managing and conserving New Zealand’s native fish,” Dr Trolove says.
The review recommends that an elected or appointed salaried chair of NZ Fish and Game (NZFGC) should head and control the implementation of the review.
The present chair of the NZFGC Ray Grubb told Radio NZ the organisation itself would now be implementing the recommendations of the review with the agreed approval of Environment Minister David Parker.
“The minister has endorsed that approach by recognising that I will continue as chair of Fish and Game, and that Fish and Game will actually put in place the report itself rather than have it directed by the Department of Conservation,” Grubb says – maintaining he is the right person to lead the changes.
Trolove says that could be viewed as a dictatorial undemocratic process being forced upon a sports organisation financed by the annual licence fees that are paid for by individual fishers and hunters.
“The New Zealand Federation of Freshwater Anglers demand that licence holders and Fish and Game regional councillors have the opportunity to discuss and vote as to whether they accept the review and current Fish and Game chair’s intentions. Anything less would smack of dictatorship and a Government takeover of a member-financed sports body.”
The review’s proposed changes of government appointees occupying previously elected council seats, both nationally and regionally, would be seen by many as an agenda of government takeover, not unlike the government’s seizure of Environment Canterbury back in 2009,Trolove says.
“This governance review is weak on positive governance recommendations. Diminishing democratic participation isn’t improved governance,” he says.
Trolove says democracy has been a hallmark of Fish and Game to make it fully effective an automatic “opt-in” registration of all licence holders to vote in Fish and Game elections should be implemented.
Currently on buying a licence an angler or shooter has to signify separately, their wish to be eligible to vote.
“Plus we would want more regular public consultation, especially on controversial topics like water policy or sustainable tourism”, he adds

Contact: Peter Trolove, President NZFFA
Phone 03 324 2779 or 029 779 0295

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18 Responses to Fish and Game Review Proposals Undemocratic

  1. Charles Henry says:

    Ray Grubb has stated on National Radio that he wants the paid job as CEO of Fish n Game.
    Currently unpaid like all Councillors, it just stinks of parochialism.
    His decision and that of the Minister are wrong on so many levels.
    Grubb is responsible for so much of the current mess, and to ask him to clean up and pay him for it is obnoxious in the extreme

    NZFFA - New Zealand Federation of Freshwater Anglers

    • Michael Gregg says:

      This is rubbish. I’m guessing Charles Henry is just another fake name from one of the few rancour-ridden bitter few pushing on with personal attacks on the F&G Board. It’s lucky that only a few dozen people actually read these comments.

    • Michael Gregg says:

      Nowhere in your link does it state that Mr Grubb wants the paid CEO role as you have incorrectly asserted.

      Oh, and your personal attacks are unnecessary – the very reason for the exodus of NZFFA Executive Committee members earlier this year. Don’t shoot the messenger; just check your facts before you hastily attempt to discredit Mr Grubb.

      Regarding fake names, remember that when I was on the NZFFA Executive Committee, I had full access to the backend of the website. So I’m acutely aware of the high volume of fake names used to post the majority of comments to these posts, by only a few individuals. The IP addresses for these (im)posters was shown with each comment so it’s very easy for these to be tracked and traced.

      The credibility of this 47 year old organisation and its officials needs to be regained, not further damaged. Otherwise an SGM of the Members, or the coming AGM should vote for its winding up before further damage is sustained.

      • andic says:

        Hi Michael

        Firstly, yes I agree ad hominem attacks are to be avoided preferably, as playing the man rather than the ball is bad form.

        NZFFA does encourage pseudonyms to encourage input from anyone who might find some form of disadvantage or even persecution whether socially or in employment.

        As you probably know, comments are checked for profanity etc., but otherwise we do and will continue to encourage nom de plumes to facilitate as wide a range of opinion as possible.

        On a personal note, whilst a member of the Executive, you did provide many interesting and practical suggestions for improvement. It is only sad that you disagreed with the majority opinion regarding F&G and felt unable to continue. I respect your personal moral stance.

        NB, these are my personal thoughts and in no way express the views of the NZFFA.


        PS An AGM has been called for next month

  2. Bud jones JonesQSM says:

    DOC & Eugenie Sage have a long track record of failing those of us sports people who enjoy the traditional out door pursuits. As the country moves further away from democracy in all facets of life. We must be ever wary of any further slipping away from democratic process.

  3. Neil Wilson says:

    around the marlbrough area there is so much of the area inaccessible as fish and game dont seem to care about it, they may have spent to much money / time on the debacle that is the para swamp, it getting to the stage of why the hell am i paying for a license, fish and game does the big rara re filling lake argle with trout/ salmon, but wont look after access for otherrivers , shocking as it hasbeen the last 10 years cheers neil

  4. Stewart Hydes says:

    Whatever the immediate problems .. Fish & Game must remain an organisation of sportspeople, by sportspeople, for sportspeople.
    As it is, our democracy is being eroded and undermined left, right, and centre. Nobody is more on the receiving end of this than outdoorspeople .. particularly, those who fish and hunt. That’s despite being at the very centre of the egalitarianism upon which modern New Zealand was founded .. and the essence of what it means in our society to be a free country.
    Indeed, our way of life seems to be under direct attack.
    Our Department of Conservation has so far shown a refusal to embrace the Valued Introduced Species we are blessed with .. as a result of the foresight of our forebears .. as part of our modern biodiversity. As a result, they cannot be trusted .. and all efforts by DOC to become more involved in management of Valued Introduced Species should be spurned .. and actively resisted, if necessary.

  5. Ben Hope says:

    Erosion of democracy is the underlying issue. State control is the agenda.
    It’s not the first time government has tried to take over fish and game, in fact, it goes back to acclimatisation society days.

  6. About Time says:

    RIP F&G, it’s a damning review, highlighting how the current system has failed to deliver for licence holders over many years, and should be a real kick up the backside for many who have ignored the obvious for so long. The Govt has said enough, as it should, but the loss of democracy is very concerning, once the fundamentals of good governance are put in place, then F&G should be allowed to return to full democracy .

  7. Chaz Forsyth says:

    The history of Fish and Game (which predates that of DoC by a century or more) is for management of the sport resource by its harvesters, and not by bureaucrats. Why is DoC involved this debate at all? It has hardly distinguished itself as a manager of harvestable resources (indeed, most of its resources are preserved because they are regarded as endangered or otherwise in jeopardy from exploitation, and it tends strongly towards outright preservation).

    Whatever problems F&G NZ might have, are most unlikely to be resolved by DoC intervention, and F&G’s ability to pay its own way, AND undertake extensive and successful rehabilitation programmes for habitat, waterways and certain harvestable species, while at the same time making strenuous efforts to care for non-harvestable species has long been notable.

    In my view DoC should but out and stay out.

  8. Michael Gregg says:

    I’ve read the independent F&G report thoroughly and I can’t see how its recommendations can disadvantage New Zealand anglers in any way. Quite the opposite. Belinda and John’s professional and expert analysis and advice is thorough, insightful and considered.

    Adoption of these recommendations will provide F&G with greater expertise providing them with the professionalism and skills to maintain modern governance standards, ensuring they remain an arms-length distance from DoC and Government, and continue to represent the voting licence holders more, not less.

    Any suggestion that the findings will result in F&G being less democratic or depriving anglers from participation in F&G are simply laughable and a crude attempt to twist the valuable work of Belinda and John.

    I can only wonder if this is actually NZFFA’s democratically-reached position though. My experience suggests it is merely bluster in a desperate attempt to maintain some relevance and has not even been run past its members.

    I can only hope that the NZFFA’s urgently-needed 2021 AGM will mark a change to the contention between the two organisations. Ironically, the continued approach of launching personal attacks on F&G representatives from a few NZFFA Executives (as per the previous new items covering NZFFA’s legally-required apology to F&G) is a direct result of NZFFA not undertaking its own democratic processes. The largely-unilateral abuse of F&G is ill-considered, not supported by its membership, and its futility demonstrates why NZFFA did not even rate a mention in the vitally important Fish & Game Review.

  9. "Chinook" says:

    “About Time” says “the loss of democracy is very concerning, once the fundamentals of good governance are put in place, then F&G should be allowed to return to full democracy.”
    There will not be full democracy if government appoints councillors and the chairman happen.
    A move of government appointing councillors is not dissimilar to the National government replacing the democratically elected Environment Canterbury (ECan) council with government’s puppet councillors in 2009.
    “About Time” appears to blame Fish& Game for “the current system has failed to deliver for licence holders over many years.”
    I suggest the decline in trout and salmon fishing is erosion of habitat with nitrate leaching, irrigation schemes, forestry clear felling and silting of spawning dreams and rivers, smothering bottom fauna. The dairying boom and forestry conversions were/are due to government policies. Yes, government policies. Yet government as per the review wants to sit on councils.
    Funny-peculiar, I noticed one comment lauding the Fish & Game review which proposes government appointments to Fish and Game councils.
    Fish& Game achieved Water Conservation Orders (WCOs) to protect rivers. I’ve watched with admiration NZ Fed. Freshwater anglers excellent work on nitrate measuring of the aquifer and rivers – toxic to human health (link to colorectal cancer- Danish study of 2.7 million people) and freshwater fish, among them native fish.
    Native fish? So where was DOC in fighting for WCOs for rivers or alert to toxic nitrate levels? Absent. And DOC conducted the review of Fish& Game. here s more than a whiff of hypocrisy about the review.

  10. Joh Mulgan says:

    Why is public consultation so hard for DoC and Fish and Game? Both have underperformed in this important aspect of democracy. But DoC’s failure to fulfill community based conservation programmes is much worse. Think of the 1080 programme or the initially proposed tahr cull. Both failed to get the public on board, and DoC risks doing so again with this tone-deaf “governance review.” No where in the review does it state what the number of anglers and hunters were who supported different proposed changes. Consulting members of the public who don’t fish and hunt how to run Fish and Game is like asking a priest for advice on birth control. It’s just stupid.

    The idea of DoC appointing any Fish and Game councilors, rather than having them democratically elected, smells of the same authoritarian taint as what Nick Smith did when he fired the democratically elected Environment Canterbury. So does arbitrarily reducing the number of fishing regions. Combining Southland and Otago Fish and Game councils is typical of the bad recommendations in this review. Few license holders would agree to this, or reducing the number of democratically elected councilors. DoC’s “governance review” would ironically reduce the level of democratic participation in Fish and Game’s governance. Want better governance for Fish and Game? The answer is simple:

    Ask the stakeholders what changes they would like to see in how Fish and Game is run. Fish and Game should run an online poll with its license holders about this review before any radical change. Anything less is illegitimate and antidemocratic and doomed to failure. It also looks like an attempt to muzzle Fish and Game for speaking out against government weakness in regulating nitrogen and other pollutants.

    Yes, Fish and Game has conducted too many closed door meetings. This has happened at the national as well as the regional level. The outcome of such secrecy is illegitimate decision making. Just consider the way Southland Fish and Game signed off on the cockamamie idea to allow intensive commercial rafting on the Mataura, Waikaia and Oreti, in a meeting that excluded the public.

    Mr Grubb may have a long-term strategy to bring Fish and Game and Federated Farmers into a more constructive collaboration on freshwater. But he has not adequately explained himself to license holders. And the relationship is asymmetrical, which does not bode well. Federated Farmers and Fontera have far more power than a small organisation with budget that is a fraction of that of farming lobbyists.

    How long will Mr Grubb allow industrial agriculture to continue destroying our rivers before he resumes the pressure that made Fish and Game the most respected nonprofit fighting for freshwater reform? One year? Two years? He hasn’t said, and his stakeholders deserve an accounting.

  11. "Fly Fisher" says:

    I have just read a disturbing self defeatist statement in a public letter, (6 May)from the chairman of Fish & Game NZ, Ray Grubb.
    He wrote:-Ultimately, “our Minister and Parliament will have the final say – so our advice needs to be generally consistent with the Minister’s intentions.”
    What sort of leadership is that?

  12. C Krystman says:

    Fish & Game must remain an organisation of sportspeople, by sportspeople, for sportspeople.
    DOC will NOT act in the interest of the sportspeople.
    There motivation is pushed by political agendas and by groups and individuals that have never had any passion in our past time.

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