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Opposition stokes anger over snapper proposals

Published: 6:33AM Wednesday August 21, 2013 Source: ONE News

Labour leader David Shearer has helped fuel anger over the Government's proposal to cut snapper allowances at a public meeting in Auckland last night.

Public submissions on the controversial change, which would drop the number of snapper recreational fishermen could catch from nine to three, will be accepted until Friday.

Hundreds of angry fishermen at last night's meeting were united in their opposition to the proposal.

"The people who own boats vote National, they won't be doing that if they do this," said one.

"Three (snapper) is miserable," added another. "You go fishing you catch three fish you actually have to go and buy some fish to feed the rest of your family.

"It's not going to be worthwhile us going fishing or having a boat for three fish."

Their concerns have been echoed by thousand of others at other meetings on the on the North Island's east coast, from Northland to the Bay of Plenty.

Labour leader David Shearer yesterday questioned the proposal to allow commercial fishermen to catch smaller snapper than recreational anglers.

He even went to the length of taking two different size fish into Parliament for question time to illustrate his point.

"I think the proposals are very, very unfair and I think they disadvantage the recreational fishers and they clearly show the Government's agenda which is to side with the commercial fishers over the recreational fishers," he told last night's meeting.

While snapper stocks have been recovering, officials say they have not increased quickly enough to be sustainable long term.

"The public are barely aware that their future meaningful fishing experiences are on the block right now," LegaSea Spokesperson Scott Macindoe said.

Ignoring the boos from the crowd the Federation of Commercial Fishermen argued everyone was working together to preserve stock numbers.

"We're not really here to argue about people doing right and wrong, we're here to talk about a way to harvest fish so it can be shared," Brian Kiddie said.

Labour says it has received more than 30,000 emails about the cutbacks and is urging everyone to have their say before public submissions close on Friday.