Open letter to all New Zealand
by Matt Watson
Fishing is a huge part of New Zealand. When I make this statement I’m not referring to the statistic that over one million New Zealanders participate in fishing, it is much bigger than that. Nor am I referring to the multi-million dollar commercial and recreational fishing industries, it is much greater than these also.
It would be hard to find a Kiwi that has not eaten fish or seafood from our waters, swam in our seas, walked on our beaches or indeed shared the pleasure of casting a line. We are an island nation, and thus we are linked to the sea whether we choose to recognise this fact of not. So protecting the sea, the fish and our access to it, is vital to our culture and our national well-being, now and in the future.
By ‘our national well-being’, I mean the ability to harvest fresh seafood to feed our families. Not only does this food nourish our people, it gives a sense of purpose and satisfaction. I felt this for the first time as a six-year-old when I returned home from our local beach with a plastic bag half full of mussels. My feet stinging from oyster cuts I presented them proudly to my Mum and Dad. We had them for dinner that night, and I felt a tremendous sense of purpose.
To this day I love the simplicity of getting sea food for my family, no need to drive in traffic to an office, factory or worksite in order to earn money to buy food, it is from the sea to the table – it’s a part of kiwi culture, and a part of our very beginnings.
While hosting an American TV producer and his wife here in New Zealand, I took them fishing. They each caught their first fish, and those fish became our dinner. As we ate with a group of friends, our American guest announced that he and his wife had experienced the greatest day of their lives, and said, “You Kiwi’s have no idea how lucky you are”. This made me realise what we have, and how much we take it for granted.
So imagine for a minute that we can no longer catch fish or harvest seafood. Imagine our children not having the same experiences and freedoms we have. Imagine the loss of our culture and national well-being. A growing population, over-fishing, fish dumping, poor management, pollution and licensing all threaten fishing in New Zealand as we know it today.
“They will never let it happen!” This is the phrase I have heard from the time I was a boy, whenever there was a threat to our fishery.
Have you ever stopped to ask….?
Who is “they” that will never let inadequate research and commercial quota increases go unchallenged?
Who is ‘they’ who will fight against licensing for all recreational anglers? Who is ‘they’ that will work on sound fisheries research and management decisions?
It is not the government, nor the politicians, nor the fishing company executives that will do all of these things to protect what’s important to Kiwi’s – It is us, we have to do it.
I have taken the time to get to understand the LegaSea cause and get to know the hard working people behind it, and I welcome you to do the same. But if you would like to take my word for it, I would tell you this….
It is my sworn belief that LegaSea is the best chance we have of overcoming the threats to fishing in New Zealand, and if we all contribute a little I believe we have a bright future.
Now imagine being the generation of Kiwis that passes on to our children the legacy of more fish in the water.
To find out more and contribute to LegaSea visit www.legasea.co.nz/contribute or call 0800 LEGASEA today.