Ending the public right to administer fishing and hunting?

by Ben Hope

A recently released Government-instigated review of Fish and Game that manages trout, salmon, duck and game bird resources sets out changes that are a major step towards full state control say critics. 

Dr Peter Trolove, chairman of the NZ Federation of Freshwater Anglers, said the review’s proposed changes of government appointees occupying previously elected council seats, both nationally and regionally, would be seen by many as an agenda of government takeover, not unlike the government’s seizure of Environment Canterbury back in 2009.

Making a takeover bid

The Fish and Game organisation and its administration and management are funded entirely from the licence fees paid by the public with no cost to the taxpayer. “It rips the heart out of ‘user-pays/user says’,” says Peter Trolove (pictured).

Chairman of the Council of Outdoor Recreation Associations Andi Cockroft says that government through the Department of Conservation is making a major play for state ownership of the public’s fish and game resources and sport via the department’s review of the Fish and Game organisation.

“This is a blatant attempt to disinherit the fish and game public of its over 150-year-old right to administer the sports. Would the government dare to make a state grab for control of rugby union, lawn bowls or other sports?”

Not an independent review

Peter Trolove was critical of the Department of Conservation which carried out the review.

“This so-called ‘independent’ review, called for by former Minister of Conservation, Eugenie Sage, highlights a glaring conflict of interest within a government department in which many see their role solely as conservators of New Zealand’s indigenous species – while condemning trout and salmon as ‘introduced predators’. 

Ironically DOC has a very poor record in managing and conserving New Zealand’s native fish,” he said.

The review recommends that an elected or government — appointed salaried chair of NZ Fish and Game (NZFGC) should head and control the implementation of the review. Andi Cockroft said it is very clear the policies required to sustain the large and socially important sports of freshwater fishing and duck hunting are the prerogative of licence holders. 

“Not some backroom bureaucratic boffin that has never held a rod or rifle in his life, nor can understand and appreciate the aspirations concerning ethics, field rules and recreational values.”

He said there it was bizarre the Department of Conservation had instigated and conducted the review.

“It’s ironic given DOC’s poor public image, its list of failures, its bureaucratic spin and its mismanagement of wildlife with native bird and fish populations declining alarmingly. 


  • on-going 1080 programme 
  • its blitz on tahr 
  • failure to control catfish in Lake Taupo 
  • doing a back room deal swapping Ruahine Forest public land to help a Hawke’s Bay mega-irrigation scheme, 
  • failure to advocate for clean rivers and other failings. 

And this is the department that now sits in judgement on the fate of the public’s Fish and Game,” said Andi Cockroft. “This review is a twisted formula of conquest by division, state takeover and disinheritance.”

“The call by the review is to strip the fishing and hunting public of its right to manage its affairs, in return for an increased fishing and hunting licence fees to fund the paid positions of government appointees,” said Andi Cockroft.