2020 President’s Report

President’s Report

“Bobby my boy, if things don’t change they’ll stay as they are” are the words of an old workmate I’ll never forget. In his own unique Old English way, Dudley was telling me that I can either take or make what’s coming.

We are told on a frequent basis that we are living in “unprecedented times” and we have to learn to live with the “new normal”.  Well yeah granted not many of us have lived through a pandemic of this magnitude before, or the economic recession of the magnitude of the one coming. But our parents and grandparents did, and sadly our children and grandchildren probably will. It’s true that this situation will impact us all, but that’s where the “new normal” begins and ends. It will affect all of us differently, and we will all react differently.  We all have our own “New Normal”.

We also experience “unprecedented times” and the resulting “new normal” almost every day of our lives, Loved ones are born and pass away, we get married and some get divorced, we buy and sell property, start and finish employment relationships. “new normals” are part of our existence

As my old mate Dudley was telling me, you can either take what’s coming or make your own future. Or as Ghandi would say, be the change you want to see in the world.

We as the New Zealand Sport Fishing Council are changing. We’re making our own future and that future is finding and delivering news ways to deliver value for our member clubs.

Fundamental to delivering more value was the establishment of the CEO position. After a 6 month search we appointed our first Chief Executive officer in November last year. Steve’s induction got slowed by illness until the end of February but has ramped back to full speed and completed an impressive list of achievement after 10 months in the role including our first ever tranche of financial support from Sport NZ.

Despite the set-back he’s hit the ground running and;

  • Increased the Go Fuel discount to 11 cents, (2 tanks a month yield around $120/year)
  • Established the genesis power discount ($50 sign-up fee back to club and member, and 15% discount.)
  • Set-up the Office Products Depot discount for club and member office product requirements.
  • Continued Club Marine Insurance discount ($70/year for a $60k vessel)

So how do these deliver value for clubs? Each club member has access to $300/year of value discounts that they might not get from anywhere else, just by joining an affiliated club. Clubs can use these as a reason to encourage people to join their organisation. So you can get better discounts from somewhere else? Let us know and we’ll see if we can get the same discount country wide.

In addition to the discounts, we have also conducted extensive research into Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platforms, with a view to providing a tool that helps club manage their membership databases easier.  We are about to commence a trial with a small number of clubs to ensure the chosen product is fit for purpose. We hope to have the CRM available for use by all clubs before Christmas 2020.

Finally, we are in the final stages of testing a replacement for the aged Nationals Database. It’s a third party product from a company called info-fish and is currently used for other comps run in Australasia. We are currently running the full 2020 dataset through is as a rerun of the 2020 nationals. Once that trial is complete we’re good to go for the 2021 nationals.

Ironically, the Covid lockdown has produced some upsides for our Clubs and the Council. A really cool by-product of the Covid lockdown, was people realising that staying connected through social media and keeping social distance really didn’t cut the mustard. People yearned and relearnt the value of face to face contact and hanging out with mates and using our boats! That’s great for our clubs as being focal points for people to indulge in their favourite subject and get the face to face contact they have been reminded they need.

Another by-product of the Covid lockdown is the opportunities we got to present engage close with the Government outside of Fisheries. Our Letter to the Government requesting permission for use of boats during Level 3 for sustenance fishing found its way into the hands of Opposition spokesperson for Sport and Recreation Nikki Kaye. She was then instrumental in getting us before the Epidemic response committee to put our case challenging the Governments decision making and our need for Sport NZ funding to help some of our clubs with recovery from the lockdown.

The result of these interactions with Government and Sport New Zealand has been the receipt of our very first tranche of funding for clubs from Sport NZ. Despite what we were told by Sport NZ, we were given a much smaller sum of $1000 per incorporated club. Sport NZ were surprised and impressed when 21 club our community elected to forego their payment and put it towards clubs who were more needy.   We showed Sport NZ that we are a community of clubs who look out for each other.

During the course of 2020 we have also represented your fishing interests to the government through 25 submissions covering 25 species and 9 Fisheries Management areas.

We are also engaged in three RMA processes. Since the Environmental court invoked what we now know as the “Motiti Lockout”, this approach is spreading across NZ like it’s own virus, not only pushed by Forest and Bird, but also local groups with their own environmental Agenda. We recently attended court appointed Mediation in Whangarei on the Bay Of Islands Appeal. These hearings are all confidential, but be assured we’re attending these in full force with local club representatives, and our own legal team in the form of Rowan Ashton and experts such as John Holdsworth, Barry Torkington and Vance Fulton.

This RMA “virus” is a direct result of a failed Quota Management system, with the precedent set by the Motiti decision, local groups are emboldened to take matters into their own hands, to use the RMA to restrict fishing practices. Not something the act was designed for.

We’ve been saying for a long time now, that the QMS has passed its use-by date. We’ve recently seen Tarakihi and Crayfish allocations for both recreational and commercial fishes cataclysmically smashed, and we know many other species are in danger, yet aren’t being addressed by the QMS stock assessments.  We’re not alone, commercial and MPI are frustrated with the QMS too, we see numerous references from industry about their frustrations.

We’re proud to have supported the launch of the Rescue Fish Proposal, we’re the first organisation in NZ to stop moaning about the failed QMS, and taken the next step to provide a solution that provides abundant fisheries through a more dynamic fisheries a management system, better outcomes for the commercial fishers themselves and co-governance for Mana whenua. We’re playing the long game here, were the ones starting the conversation, it’s only a matter of time before other stakeholders realise it’s time to sit down and talk about a better future for NZ fisheries. We’ll be there with bells on.

Finally, the board is extremely proud to present first Strategic plan for the council for a very long time. The plan represents a collaboration effort that takes a 5 year view of what we want to aspire to as an organisation and detailed tactical plans for how we will get there. It’s aspirational by nature and requires resourcing in terms of funding and additional Human resource to make it happen. Clearly each step of the plan requires funding for resourcing to be in place before the resource is deployed. The Plan’s focus is how do we create value for clubs by helping them Grow, connect and educate Youth and their communities, and protect their fisheries.  This is not a plan written with the intent of a single funding target, it’s a plan the transforms this organisation to one that clubs and their members aspire to join, just like it was when we formed our club in Hamilton 30 years ago.

In Summary, we’ve had a huge year despite numerous challenges. Thanks to Steve and Helen for the work they do in keeping our engine room going.

Thanks to the Board, you’ve had a lot more work to do this year and extra-curricular meetings to attend, to the sub committees.

Thanks in particular to John Holdsworth, Trish Rae, Barry Torkington, Jess Beetham, Sam Woolford, Piet Battaerd , Simon Yates and of course Scott for the tireless efforts you’ve put into our submissions, RMA process, our sponsors, LegaSea and Rescue Fish!

We’ve worked hard this year hard this year to set-up for our “New Normal” for the New Zealand that we want for ourselves, our children, our clubs and our fishery.  Plenty of things, people and crisis will get in our way, but we can either be change takers or change makers. Let us be the latter.

Bob Gutsell