Tuesday, 11 January 2011

In praise of 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.

Now the Kiwi Federation of Freshwater Anglers complains of exclusive access deals on land surrounding some high country rivers with good fly fishing.
Kiwi anglers are being "locked out" of top fishing spots by businesses cutting expensive deals with private landowners, angry fishermen say.

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, including former United States president Jimmy Carter, actors Liam Neeson and Timothy Dalton, and former Australian prime minister Malcolm Fraser, pay thousands of dollars for guided helicopter fishing expeditions on New Zealand's most prized trout rivers.

But there are now fears more access will be lost to ordinary Kiwi fly fishermen – thought to number about 100,000.
I love the scaremongering about both rich people and foreigners.
The Government says the deals are the "legitimate right of a property owner" but it has asked the new Walking Access Commission to try to negotiate for open access "where there is access restricted".

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.
Compare the landowner's incentives to maintain and enhance habitat when such work brings greater access fees with those incentives when there's zero excludability.

Wouldn't it make more sense for the Federation to up its membership fees and maybe start paying for member access in deals that could enhance habitat protection?

Update: Also see HomePaddock.


  1. As I understand it, the farmers can control access across their land, but have no ability to control access on the river and/or fish in the river.

    Maybe the Federation should look to cut deals with high country helicopter pilots so their members can be dropped off without crossing the farmer's property :)

  2. That's a very good idea, Eric.

    Duncan - you're right. Farmers can control access across the land but if anglers get to the river without crossing the land, and providing they have a licence, they are free to fish.

  3. @Duncan: Would make the picnic lunch a bit tougher though, with no recourse to the shore.

    @Homepaddock: Sorry I'd missed your post!