Exclusive use can benefit environment


Federated Farmers makes a stand for landowners in saying that fishing rights shouldn’t trample property rights:

Federated Farmers will defend a fundamental principle of land ownership – the right to exclude access – even if some anglers may have to choose to pay for convenient access.

“Federated Farmers agrees that selling river fishing rights is against the law,” says Donald Aubrey, Federated Farmers game and pest animal management spokesperson.

“Yet all landowners have the right to exclude access to their land by people who are uninvited, whether you live in the town or the country.

Few people would expect to have open access to a section in town, it doesn’t make any difference in the country just because the property is bigger.

“What this boils down to is common courtesy and respect for the property of others.  I know many farmers who freely grant access for recreational hunting or fishing but it’s based on the common courtesy of asking permission first. 

“A farm may be open ground but its also private property like someone’s house in-town.  Importantly it’s also a working environment that may contain sensitive areas or hazards.  Taking rather than securing permission is not only illegal but may have unintended adverse consequences.

“Anglers need to respect the right of the landowner to grant or refuse access.  After all, if you’ve had your gates left open, fences damaged or discarded fishing line left behind, then you’re probably less inclined to say yes. . .

We have never had any problems with people who’ve asked permission to cross or property but we have had problems with those who don’t – including theft of fuel, illegal hunting and damage to a security camera.

Donald was responding to comments from anglers criticising landowners who grant exclusive access to fishing guides which was the subject of a post on Monday.

Over at Offsetting Behaviour, Eric Crampton points out there can be environmental benefits from exclusive access:

One of my favourite Kiwi enviropreneurs is Elm Wildlife Tours down in Dunedin. I always recommend that folks visiting the Department book in with them if heading that way. Elm partnered with a local farmer whose land had Yellow-Eyed Penguin habitat: Elm gets exclusive access for its tour groups and works to improve the habitat. Making the resource excludable encourages conservation.

Maintaining and enhancing natural resources takes money and this is an excellent way to control access, for the sake of the landowner and the penguins, and ensure the habitat is looked after.

Landowners are charging for access, not for fishing, although if the only way to the river is through a farm it’s a distinction which makes no difference. Those complaining about that ought to remember it’s not only private landowners who charge. DoC sells concessions to tourist operators who use  land under their control and they also sell the right to hunt on it.

We neighbour a DoC block and the easiest access is through our property. We’ve never charged anyone who’s asked to cross our land although that increases the need for maintenance on our tracks.

But charging by DoC is a sensible form of user pays – those who make money from others or enjoy hunting  on DoC  land pay for the privilege which helps offset the cost of maintenance and enhancement.

Angry anglers casting into dangerous waters


Anyone with the appropriate licence can fish most waterways in New Zealand but no-one has ever had the freedom to cross private land without permission to get to fishing spots.

In the past it would have been rare for farmers to refuse permission but anglers are getting upset because a few landowners are now giving exclusive rights to access to commercial guides:

In a growing number of “exclusive capture” deals, mostly in prime backcountry, “large sums” have been paid to landowners for the sole right to fish on their land, the New Zealand Federation of Freshwater Anglers says.

Rich foreigners and celebrities . . .  pay thousands of dollars for guided helicopter fishing expeditions on New Zealand’s most prized trout rivers.

This is a legitimate way for farmers to make money and could well mean the difference between profit and loss given poor returns for meat and wool in recent years.

The government, correctly, says landowners have the right to do this although it has asked the Walking Access Commission to negotiate for open access where it’s restricted.

Agriculture Minister David Carter said although there were probably more, he was aware of fewer “than a dozen” places where the deals were in place. He personally felt it was the legitimate property right of an owner to sell exclusive access for fishing.

“… the owner of the property certainly has the ability to restrict access and therefore to maximise the economic potential of a fishing spot to the advantage of that property owner.”

However, he had asked the commission to negotiate more open access, including offering cash enticements to landowners.

Negotiation is the right way to approach this and the offer of payment recognises that landowners would be forgoing an income-earning opportunity.

It’s is a far more reasonable approach than the bluster from the Federation of Freshwater Anglers:

Federation president Jim Hale said parts of rivers in the North Island and South Island had been captured by “unscrupulous commercial interests”.

“It is practised by those who have captured these trout fishing waters for their own financial profiteering, even though the running water and the fish within them do not belong to them.

“We will fight this scourge wherever we find it, with whoever is involved, with all of the determination and resources at our disposal,” Mr Hale said.

Anglers will be casting into very dangerous waters if their actions match this rhetoric. Fighting property rights is usually the preserve of despots; it would be a very sad day for democracy if it succeeded here.

Fishing can be a lucrative tourist venture. Guides and others who supply services to anglers make money from it so it’s not unreasonable for landowners to want something too.

Negotiation and compensation are the weapons the anglers should be use if they’re unhappy about that, not confrontation.

Crook safety standards hook anglers


Anglers in Derbyshire have been snared by over-zealous safety standards:

Thousands of fishermen come to Foremark Reservoir in Derbyshire every year to fish for rainbow and brown trout.

However the local water board has banned fishing on the dam wall after a number of anglers sustained minor injuries slipping on the rocks. Anglers are also banned from most of the rest of the reservoir for fear back casting will snare a passer-by, although this has never happened in the forty years since the reservoir was built.

Anglers now fear that hundreds of other fishing spots near public walkways will be restricted around the country as health and safety officers protect against litigation if walkers are accidentally injured.

Forty years of accident free angling count for nothing while common sense and personal responsibility are ignored again.

But the bureaucrats aren’t really concerned about the risk to anglers or passers by because this ruling has far less to do with physical safety and a lot more to do with fear of legal liability.

Never argue with a woman who reads


One morning a bloke returns after several hours of fishing and decides to take a nap. Although not familiar with the lake, his decides to take the boat out. She motors out a short distance, anchors, and reads her book.

Along comes a Game Warden in his boat. He pulls up alongside the woman and says, ‘Good morning, Madam. What are you doing?’

‘Reading a book,’ she replies, (thinking, ‘Isn’t that obvious?’)

‘You’re in a Restricted Fishing Area,’ he informs her

‘I’m sorry, officer, but I’m not fishing. I’m reading’

‘Yes, but you have all the equipment. For all I know you could start at any moment.. I’ll have to take you in and write you up.’

‘For reading a book?’ she replies,

‘You’re in a Restricted Fishing Area,’ he informs her again,

‘I’m sorry, officer, but I’m not fishing. I’m reading’

Yes, but you have all the equipment. For all I know you could start at any moment. I’ll have to take you in and write you up.’

‘If you do that, I’ll have to charge you with sexual assault,’ says the woman.

‘But I haven’t even touched you,’ says the game warden.

‘That’s true, but you have all the equipment. For all I know you could start at any moment.’

‘Have a nice day madam,’ and he left.

MORAL: Never argue with a woman who reads. It’s likely she can also think.


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