This case dealt with the tensions that arose when the Minister of Fisheries fixed the total allowable catch for a certain fish species called “kahawai” for both commercial and recreational fishing groups. Each interest group sought a greater share of the available resource through the medium of judicial review of the Minister’s decisions. The court had to analyze the manner in which the Minister had discharged the statutory purpose of ‘providing for the utilisation of fisheries resources while ensuring sustainability’ according to s 8(1) Fisheries Act 1996.
The court emphasized that it was not within its power to second-guess the merits of the Ministers’ decisions; the Court’s jurisdiction was limited to determining whether the Minister had acted in accordance with his statutory powers and obligations. It examined the statutory requirements the Minister had to fulfill in reaching the decisions. It concluded that the Minister’s decisions were unlawful to the extent that the Minister had fixed the Total Allowable Commercial Catch for kahawai without having proper regard to the social, economic and cultural wellbeing of the people. He had also failed without giving any or proper reasons to consider advice from the Ministry of Fisheries to review bag catch limits for recreational fishers. It ordered the Minister to review his decisions taking into account this judgment.