It has taken a while but the Government has finally accepted it needs to properly consult before overriding customary and industry fishing rights. Some belated pressure from the Maori Party and Act was enough to delay legislation that would have established a 620,000 sq km Kermadecs Ocean Sanctuary.

It has taken a while but the Government has finally accepted it needs to properly consult before overriding customary and industry fishing rights.
Some belated pressure from the Maori Party and Act was enough to delay legislation that would have established a 620,000 sq km Kermadecs Ocean Sanctuary.
Prime Minister John Key - who announced the proposal, which had been kept secret, at the United Nations in New York a year ago - is such a consummate politician he recognised the danger and hit the pull up button.
Having done so, he is now smart enough not to put a timetable on a resolution.
While he would still have the numbers to pass the Bill – just - Key said he wanted to restart negotiations with the Maori Party to find a way through.
That would more correctly be to start negotiations, rather than restart, as neither the Maori Party nor anyone else was brought in on the Kermadecs announcement. 
Key and his officials also need to talk meaningfully with those directly affected – Maori and industry.
Te Ohu Kaimoana, the Maori Fisheries Trust, has described the breach of Maori fishing rights as this Government’s equivalent of the foreshore and seabeds issue that sparked the rift between Labour and Maori under the Clark Government.
Environment Minister Nick Smith has got eggs sizzling on his ruddy face over the Kermadecs debacle, according to veteran political reporter Barry Soper.
It was Smith who poorly advised Cabinet on the Kermadecs in the first place and he has remained obstinate until overruled by his leader.
Smith’s approach is at odds with Solicitor-General Chris Finlayson who has been heard to mutter “this is what happens when you don’t follow due process”. 
  Environmental groups have done the usual huffing against commercial fishing, blaming the industry for the Kermadecs stalling, thereby demonstrating that they still don’t get it.
Customary and property rights cannot be overturned at will. 
Greenpeace and the like use those very same arguments when it suits them.
Do the eNGOs really think the Treaty and its settlements should be summarily dismissed?
So, how to move on and find a workable compromise?
A good start would be to move away from the ideological position that the Kermadecs be a no-take reserve forever.
It already has substantial protection. 
The fishing industry declared 30 percent of the EEZ, including the Kermadecs, as seabed sanctuaries banning trawling and dredging a decade ago.
The Kermadec islands are already fully protected marine reserves in the 20-km territorial sea radius.
Maori and the seafood industry fully support marine conservation. But the Kermadecs biodiversity is not at risk and there is no current proposal for ramped up fishing effort.
There are plenty of examples of marine reserves with differing degrees of allowable activities.
Everyone’s objectives can be met by continuing to allow the surface longlining currently taking place under the QMS, recognising indigenous rights embodied in the 1992 Maori Fisheries Settlement Act 152 years after they were supposedly guaranteed in the Treaty of Waitangi, and Maori perhaps compromising by shelving quota for a decade or so.
Is that so hard to achieve?
   
- Tim Pankhurst