Hoki is one of New Zealand’s most valuable export fish. Image: YouTube CC-BY-SA

The Bulletin: Fishing proposals land boatload of controversy

Good morning, and welcome to The Bulletin. In today’s edition: Fishing proposals hook controversy from those outside industry, provincial growth fund slow to create jobs, and Waitangi Dildo Thrower hit with trespass notice.

A major overhaul of the way New Zealand’s fishing industry works has been proposed in a discussion paper put out by the government. Minister Stuart Nash has put out a call for feedback on four main areas, which can be read in his statement here. But they’re likely to be controversial, with scientists, environmentalists and recreational fishing enthusiasts already raising concerns.

The most comprehensive report on the proposals so far comes from Newshub’s Michael Morrah, who is probably the most well-informed fishing expert in NZ’s media right now (apologies to Clarke Gayford.) The lead angle of his story focuses in on the size of fish that must be returned to shore, as opposed to being thrown overboard. Currently fish killed in the trawling process, which are too small to sell, are legally required to be thrown overboard, but under the proposals that would change. The idea behind is to increase transparency in how fishing works, and create better innovation in how fish are processed.

But it has sparked concern from recreational fishing group Legasea, who say it would end up creating a market for undersize fish. “Again it’s the issue of the method that’s being ignored. We’ve got to stop catching small fish. It’s nonsense,” he said. That’s seen as a bonus for the commercial industry, who could then potentially take more. However, bringing everything in to land could also stop the practice of ‘high-grading’ – by which low quality (but still dead) fish is chucked overboard to save space for high quality fish.

Stuart Nash also confirmed that the review won’t look at the banning of bottom trawling. That has led to a deeply unimpressed reaction from Otago Zoology professor Liz Slooten, who told the Science Media Centre that the practice should be banned altogether. And Greenpeace boss Dr Russel Norman also hit out at how the review will be conducted, tweeting “instead of an independent inquiry into the fisheries management system, Stuart Nash is doing a review controlled by MPI (the same agency captured by fishing industry).” He also accused Mr Nash of giving the commercial industry everything they wanted, and suggested policy was being set by NZ First’s Shane Jones – a recent sparring partner who is a strong supporter of the industry.

Finally, Mr Nash went on Newstalk ZB to talk about the review, and much of the interview focused on the decision to delay the introduction of on-board cameras. Mr Nash said the timing wasn’t right, and the technology wasn’t quite there, and says there’s a process to monitor the industry being rolled out. There has been recent controversy over that, with Stuff reporting the Green Party’s disappointment at delays to cameras being implemented. That foreshadowed what could be an intense battle within the government this year – Stuart Nash might be a Labour minister, but the two parties on either side of the government have extremely different views on how the fishing industry should operate.


The provincial growth fund so far hasn’t been particularly good at creating new jobs. Newshub reports that only 54 jobs have come about as a result of spending – and on that, only $26.6 million of the $3 billion has been spent so far. Minister Shane Jones says the problem is with red tape slowing him down, but his opposite number in the National party Paul Goldsmith says the whole thing so far has been little more than “hoopla.”

Now, it might seem like the government isn’t getting anywhere with their various targets, what with the recent news about Kiwibuild too. But Shane Jones does have something to celebrate – the billion trees programme is well on track, and might even exceed the 2028 target, reports the NZ Herald. Though speaking of jobs, there have obviously been some problems recently reported in forestry about finding people willing to do the work for the pay being offered.


Josie Butler, also known as the Waitangi Dildo Thrower, has been trespassed from the Treaty Grounds, reports The Spinoff. There’s confusion over who made the trespass request, and she’s outraged about it, saying that as  Ngāpuhi, she has been barred from her own ancestral lands. Josie Butler is scheduled to speak at Te Tii Marae (which she is not barred from) “regarding the benefits of protest, funnily enough,” she said.

Speaking of Waitangi, PM Jacinda Ardern has defended her government’s record on reducing Māori incarceration – one of the key planks of her speech last year. Radio NZ reports that she said prisoner numbers had dropped by about 1000, and rehabilitation and support programmes were working for Māori. A recently announced $21 million dollar digital infrastructure investment is also being seen as good for Māori, with Māori TV reporting that it will help rural Marae access digital services.


The Taranaki Daily News has put out a remarkable and illuminating pair of pieces about the media management of the local DHB. The first jumps off an incident in which DHB staff members were assaulted, and the media comment from the organisation was – not a lie, as such, but certainly minimised the truth significantly. The second one is an opinion piece about the rise of PR people generally, who now generally handle any media request made of any public service organisation. Neither of the pieces attack PR people as individuals either. Rather, they attack the system of information control that has developed.


Academics are calling for law changes to require more simplified language to be used in contracts, reports Stuff. They’re described as currently often being “ludicrously complex”, and basically unreadable. An analysis of standard online contracts found that to read them, you’d need to have had on average about 14 years of education. There are other problems with consumer service contracts discussed in the article too – such as the fact that to sign them, you have to agree to every single condition, and they can’t be altered.


NZ First MP Tracey Martin has made an extraordinary accusation against an unnamed National MP, saying she witnessed them running a troll farm, reports the NZ Herald. Ms Martin says she saw the MP on a flight using facebook to direct messaging for a group of people, who were to then meant to bombard then-Labour leader Andrew Little. Mr Little didn’t care to comment about it, and National deputy leader Paula Bennett said it was an unusual accusation, and that Ms Martin should focus on doing her job instead of it. During its term of government, National made major law changes on cyberbullying, passing the Harmful Digital Communication Act.


Thanks to everyone who sent in suggestions and ideas regarding New Zealand’s problem with waste and rubbish. And when I say everyone, I really do mean everyone – I think this has been the biggest volume of feedback ever received on any topic across a year of The Bulletin. There will be more coming on it later in the week, because I haven’t yet had time to read everyone’s emails. But I can say right now some of the suggestions were really useful. I think I can say right now too – this is a topic that really matters to people.


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Right now on The Spinoff: There’s a new edition of The Side Eye, with cartoonist Toby Morris looking at whether the current system of police chases works. InternetNZ policy advisor Nicola Brown writes about social media platforms, in an era where fake news is breaking the internet. Morgan Godfery ponders the point of New Zealand having a monarch on the other side of the world. Leonie Hayden meets a Māori family which has just celebrated three generations becoming doctors. And with a whole lot of referendums coming up, Christian Smith urges New Zealand to learn the lessons given by Brexit.

Finally, Jean Sergent reviews a new documentary about Scottish crime writer Anne Perry. Of course, you might have heard of Perry under a different name, and for different reasons – she was born Juliet Hulme, and is one of New Zealand’s most famous convicted murderers. Sergent questions the value of the documentary, and whether Perry is really capable of self-reflection.


The concept of burnout has been gathering steam recently, in part because of a few widely shared articles on the topic. It’s arguably a deeply misunderstood phenomenon, and one that doesn’t really lend itself to easy characterisation. As a result, these pieces don’t necessarily give simple answers, but I’ll summarise them as best I can.

The first is from Buzzfeed, and is a long and involved read about how burnout (especially among millennials) can create a paralysing effect – anything that can possibly be procrastinated will be. When all of one’s energy is put into maintaining and delivering in their day to day job, everything else can fall by the wayside. Ironically, I was sent this article by my lovely partner, and neglected to read it for about a week because I had too much other stuff to get through.

The second has been extremely widely read recently, and is about the “performative workaholism” that many young people now display. It comes from the New York Times, and is a stark illustration of what is called ‘hustle culture’, by which people have to be – and be seen to be – constantly on the grind, constantly professionally fulfilled, and constantly succeeding.

So, what should we do? Self-care is one of the solutions put forward, but that can also just push you further inward. A better solution, says Dr Katie Bruce, chief executive of Volunteering New Zealand, is community. She wrote this for The Spinoff, and says rather than seeing volunteering as another thing to add to the to-do list, it’s a way to enrich the time you have. And one of the things that keeps on coming up with regards to burnout is that it’s incredibly individualising. Giving time in the service of others has the opposite effect – it brings you closer to other people.

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The Super Bowl was on yesterday, and Tom Brady and the New England Patriots won again, of course. But the real story was about Maroon 5’s crappy half time show. The Guardian described it as “tedious”. Stuff described it as “lacklustre”. After the NFL blacklisted Colin Kaepernick for protesting against racism and police brutality, they got what they deserved with this show. Maroon 5 weren’t the first choice, after other artists refused to play on the grounds of that exclusion, and the band were accused of “crossing the picket line” by Kaepernick’s lawyer.


From our partners: The government is digging deep into the price of electricity in New Zealand, with a review of the entire energy sector. What will the review look at, why should there even be one, and does it mean you might pay less for power? Vector’s Bridget McDonald has the answers.


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