Uncertain future for fishing and hunting under Labour Party’s Wildlife Act review

  • 11/09/2023

The proposed scrapping and replacement of the Wildlife Act signals an uncertain future for Fish & Game New Zealand and freshwater fishing and game bird hunting. 

The Labour Party has announced that if it is re-elected, it will repeal and replace New Zealand’s Wildlife Act, which protects native wildlife and recognises valued introduced species such as game birds for hunting. 

Along with the Conservation Act, the Wildlife Act is Fish & Game’s primary governing statute, setting out the sustainable management of valued introduced species as a food source and their place in New Zealand. 

“We are alarmed at what this means for Fish & Game, thousands of anglers and hunters, freshwater species, game birds and their habitats,” says Corina Jordan, chief executive of Fish & Game New Zealand. 

“What is particularly disappointing is we have not been given the opportunity to fully participate in this process to date and the Labour Party has set a very ambitious timeline for what is an incredibly complex piece of legislation. After all, Fish & Game is a statutory organisation with proven expertise in crafting policy and sustainably managing species and their habitats. 

“Fish & Game supports the protection of endangered or threatened species and agrees that legislative frameworks need to provide the tools to ensure these species exist now and into the future. Any reform also needs to ensure mana whenua rights and aspirations are recognised and gives full effect to Te Tiriti o Waitangi. 

“What we need is workable legislation which protects indigenous species and ensures the sustainable management of valued introduced species for the benefit of all New Zealanders and recognises and empowers people, communities and Fish & Game’s conservation efforts. 

“Sports fish and game birds have an indispensable place in New Zealand's cultural heritage and ecosystems, existing in tandem with indigenous species. Sports fish and game are also a valued food resource for families and communities across New Zealand.”

In crafting a new wildlife framework, it will be important to preserve Fish & Game’s statutory mandate, which has been pivotal in managing sports fish and game populations and protecting and enhancing New Zealand’s environment, says Jordan. 

“Fish & Game is New Zealand’s leading freshwater champion. Without Fish & Game, this country will lose a key advocate for the health of our rivers and lakes. 

Environment Minister David Parker recently applauded the work of Fish & Game following changes to the Natural and Built Environment Bill (NBE). 

“Minister Parker told Parliament that New Zealand needs to protect the habitat of trout and salmon and that a lot of the environmental advocacy is done by what he labelled the ‘fantastic membership-based organisation Fish & Game’,” says Jordan. 

“He stated our licence holders are passionately interested in protecting their access to trout and salmon, and they're a force for good. 

“Fish & Game urges all political parties to maintain a consistent approach to wildlife management for valued introduced species and ensure the statutory organisations that manage these populations have a seat at the table.”

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