Appeal Court confirms regional councils may not override fisheries management

In an Appeal Court judgment issued today, it was determined that regional councils are precluded from undertaking actions for Fisheries Act purposes.

In an Appeal Court judgment issued today, it was determined that regional councils are precluded from undertaking actions for Fisheries Act purposes.

Such purposes include conserving, using, enhancing, developing or allocating fisheries resources, and also any actions to avoid, remedy or mitigate the effects of fishing on the wider aquatic environment.

Fisheries Inshore New Zealand chief executive, Dr Jeremy Helson, said: “We are pleased the Court has confirmed that fisheries management remains the concern of the Fisheries Act.

“However, regional councils have some jurisdiction in managing marine activities for other purposes. When exercising such functions, the Court has provided some useful guidance that confirms Councils’ management capacity is subject to various constraints and that interventions must be carefully considered on a case-by-case basis,” said Helson.

What this means is that interested parties must now be involved whenever a regional council attempts to make a decision that affects fishing.

“It is not ideal, but we are grateful that the Appeal Court recognised that regional councils are constrained in the extent to which they can restrict commercial, recreational and customary fishing.

“While, overall, this decision did not go as far as we would have liked in providing clarity, it confirms that regional councils are restricted in the extent to which they can manage fishing in the coastal marine environment – including when exercising their functions ‘to maintain indigenous biodiversity’,” said Helson.

Industry parties are still examining the detail of the Court’s decision and it is too early to comment on whether an appeal would be appropriate.

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