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Review into Fish & Game finds 'extraordinary and unnecessary level of governance'

A Ministerial review into Fish & Game found "an extraordinary and unnecessary level of governance", as well as questioning the use of a high number of unpaid volunteers in a government organisation. 

Fish and Game workers inspect river. Source: 1 NEWS

Released today by Acting Minister of Conservation Dr Ayesha Verrall, the independent report was launched to ensure the structure, unaltered since 1990, was still fit-for purpose.

The report stated there was "an extraordinary and unnecessary level of governance" for an organisation of its size.

"It was pointed out by several parties that this means there are more Fish and Game councillors in New Zealand than there are Members of Parliament."

It also called into question the appropriate use of by unpaid volunteers in a government organisation.

"This situation raises questions of reasonableness about the workload on unpaid people... and also about the appropriateness of a government organisation with regulatory and enforcement powers being entirely governed by volunteers. This is out of step with governance best practice."

Verrall said "opportunities to strengthen governance and good practice are something Fish & Game can proceed with immediately – in fact some of these actions are already underway".

"A second group of recommendations would require legislative change. As Acting Minister I am seeking further advice from the Department of Conservation on these, as they require careful consideration by the Government, given policy and legislative implications.

"In the meantime Fish & Game has sufficient work to do on implementing best practice. The review gives them good guidance."

NZ Fish & Game, which manages sport fishing and game bird hunting, welcomed the report, saying it provided and overdue "health check" of the organisation. 

"What the reviewers identified is a huge disparity in views on the future structure," Fish & Game Council chairperson Ray Grubb said.

"The review report, therefore, provides solutions where consensus was not going to be possible."