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The Minister of Conservation’s refusal to consult on legislation is causing problems once again, with Iwi concerned about the impact of her Bill that could potentially ban whitebaiting, National’s Conservation spokesperson Sarah Dowie says.

“Whitebaiters from Ngāi Tahu have recently come out and said that they are disappointed with the lack of clarity surrounding the Bill’s consequences. They are also fearful about where this leaves their customary fishing rights.

“Following a 2018 Supreme Court decision on Section 4 of the Conservation Act, which examined the way DOC considered Treaty principles, you’d think the Minister would have consultation with Iwi as a priority.

“While some parts of the country have challenges and discussions need to happen about how to manage their stock’s sustainability, it’s clear a blanket rule is not good policy and will simply create more issues.

“New Zealand’s biggest whitebait fishery on the West Coast opened this week, and research shows the country’s only commercial fishery to be in good health.

“National takes a practical approach to conservation and believes policy should be based on science, not ideology. Minister Sage needs to meaningfully engage with people on the ground and stop being blinded by her ideological views.”

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