The Anglers' Revolt

While most of the urban left have recently focused on mobilising opposition to the GCSB Bill an unlikely bunch of fishing folk are days away from scoring a resounding victory over the National Government.

This rebellion has sprung from the grassroots but has been focused by the community organisations of the angler community - the New Zealand Sports Fishing Council and its LegaSea action group. The various publications of the fishing community have played an important role as well, agitating in the angler community and helping organise publicity for the campaign.

The Ministry for Primary Industries had proposed cuts from nine to three to the snapper catch of the east coast of the North Island from Northland to the Bay of Plenty.

The reaction from recreational fishers has been clear. As Paul Barnes said on Deaker on Sport, "I think it's an outrage, it's a Ministry out of control trying to drive a privatisation agenda. It is trying to lock the recreational sector into a very small portion of the fishery so that the fishing industry and their exports will be protected."

The anglers quickly built an alliance with Labour's leader David Shearer and have threatened a legal challenge based on Moyle's promise. More than 200 people turned out to a protest in Auckland on a Wednesday at the end of July and LegaSea have gathered more than 17,000 submissions against the changes. To top it all off they've organised 10 public meetings in yacht and fishing clubs up and down the affected area to build the resistance.

The comments in the anglers Facebook pages demonstrate the rising tide of anti-corporate, anti-goverment hostility amongst the community. Julian said, "When I'm fishing there's only two fishermen, but we have 4 to feed, plus our neighbors who can't get out. 3 fish per person would not allow for sharing as would only last 2-3 meals. I agree a cut is needed, but maybe 6? Three is to drastic. Commercial fisherman also need to play their part in conservation of NZ fisheries, as they empty it the most."

Another fisher called Muzz said, "Go long lining ya prix! Government sux! By catch waste and reckless bottom reef destruction, up grading and book falsifying, foreign fishingboat favouring Aholes! Don't give a rats about fishing do ya! It's all about the money . Do the world a favour people and string a rope between a couple of buoys and drop it off in front of the next commercial boat you see using nets."

Many fishers have pointed out the cronyism in the law change. Dale said, "Of course it wouldn't have anything to do with the fact that National Party president Peter Goodfellow is a director of [major commercial fisher] Sanfords..."

In many ways John Key is wrong when he says New Zealanders care more about the snapper cuts than the GCSB but his comments should not be dismissed offhand - anglers have co-ordinated a strong rebellion, which although unseen by most urban lefties, has strong support from many working-class New Zealanders who are rightly pissed off with having their recreational rights to feed their family usurped by the capitalist fishing boats. 

They anglers with their backcountry rhetoric about 'Queen Street investors' and spraypainted banners might seem parochial but their revolt has shaken the Nats enough to have them on the verge for a backtrack. It'll be a win for the environment and all the fishers out there if the Nats back down. And if the anglers get a taste of their power then that's great - pushing back against the destructive practices of commercial trawlers in our local waters is vital to rebuilding our fishing stocks and saving the Maui's dolphins. All power to the anglers!

-Socialist Aotearoa


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