Tue. Dec 7th, 2021

Fishing and Outdoors

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Environmental agency calls for protection of all finfish

3 min read

The non-profit organisation is calling on the Government to mandate national marine fishing licenses and is asking Kiwis to support stronger protections for all finfish species. Photo: Shaun Lee

A non-profit organisation is calling on the Government to mandate national marine fishing licenses.

Mama Fish, whose objective is to protect New Zealand’s marine life, is also asking New Zealanders to support stronger protections for all finfish species.

The organisation’s founder Karleen Reeve says action is needed now.

“The Ministry for Primary Industries is currently* doing a review of daily recreational bag limits for finfish. It is seeking submissions from the public. The current daily limit for some fish is 20; for other fish species, there is no limit, which is unsustainable.

“We have already destroyed up to 80% New Zealand’s marine biodiversity. If we are serious about maintaining what is left, we need to protect all fish wildlife from exploitation. Five fish per person per day should be enough. Recreational fishers do not need to catch 20 each day. There also needs to be a maximum size limit for fish caught, in addition to minimum size limits, to protect the large breeding fish.”

Reeve says all finfish, not just some species should be subject to this daily bag limit.

“Many fish don’t currently have catch restrictions, so people can exploit this, catching an unlimited number of fish in one fishing trip. Dozens of species are facing extinction due to over-fishing.”

In June this year, Tairua residents noticed hundreds of pink Maomao were taken by a handful of recreational fishermen, day after day. Maomao don’t have a catch limit. The outcry from local residents has been heard by the Government, and this review is now being undertaken, says Reeve.

“Mandating a national marine fishing licence, like the one in place for those wanting to fish in freshwater, would be a terrific move. This would set the bar required for killing marine wildlife.”

Reductions of some fish species is having a negative impact on all marine life, she adds.

“For example, the declining inner Hauraki Gulf seabirds’ populations have been attributed to declining forage fish (baitfish) stocks. Forage fish are at the base of the marine food web. Studies have also shown that Bryde’s whale are switching from fish to krill due to a lack of available forage fish in the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park.”

Review of recreational daily bag limits for finfish

Fisheries New Zealand is consulting on proposals to amend the Amateur Regulations so that a combined daily bag limit applies to all finfish species unless specifically excluded.

The three options proposed are:

Option 1: Status quo, retain the current daily bag limit settings.

Option 2: Include all finfish species, not currently subject to a daily bag limit, in the combined daily bag limit.

Option 3: Include all finfish species, including those with additional individual species limits, in the combined daily bag limit. Fisheries New Zealand was seeking feedback on proposals to amend recreational daily.

Additionally, tangata whenua, stakeholder, and public views are sought on two secondary proposals regarding whether to:

  • retain the existing combined daily bag limit caps across the five recreational fishing areas or standardise the limit across the country, and
  • exclude a subset of small fish species generally taken as bait and set a new combined daily bag limit of 50 for these baitfish species.

The closing date for submissions is 18 November 2021.

Find out more information on MPI’s website.

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