Envirologue by Dave Hansford

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Envirologue: Hook, Line and Sinker – National’s Empty Bribe to Rec Fishers

24 Responses

  • Graham Dunster,

    Sheesh, that's all predictably depressing. And I thought the only fishing issue was Maori rights being leased out to Johnny Foreigner.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2009 • 184 posts Report Reply

  • andin,

    Presumably, Auckland votes are more valuable than the last few strands of DNA

    Bet they value their DNA inordinately! Is this what social Darwinism looks like (your emoji of choice here)

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1891 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Thorny issue. A "few hundred thousand people" is no small pool of beneficiaries. What are the best guesses at what the impact of making the inner Hauraki a recreational-only reserve on the fish stocks?

    I presume the argument here is that whatever fish the commercial fishers lose will add to the price of fish to consumers generally? How many fish are they taking in the proposed area, compared to the 2500 tonnes taken by the recreational fishers? Also the loss of income to the fishers has to be taken into account, these are livelihoods and provide taxable revenue too.

    The argument for the recreational fishers is presumably that this is by far the most convenient place for them to fish in, whereas a commercial outfit can pretty much operate out of anywhere, the only extra cost being in transporting the more remotely caught fish to markets, something that would only even be an extra costs for markets near to those parks. It may even be cheaper to operate out of a more remote site because any premises/harbouring would surely cost less than in the most expensive place in all of NZ, the inner harbour area.

    On the fishing license...not so sure. It would probably cut the number of people fishing, but only the least committed fishers. A child who wants to dangle a hook off the wharf just won't do it if some fish cop is going to come and give them a ticket. But the adults who like to fish every week will definitely pay, so long as it's a nominal sum. I might go fishing maybe a couple of times a year, taking my boys with me to just see what it's about. We seldom even catch anything. I probably wouldn't go if there was a hundred dollar barrier per person involved. So you cut down on casual recreational fishing that probably has negligible impact and have no effect on the guys that line the wharfs and piers constantly, and take out their boats every weekend, who already drop thousands on the fuel and gear. In fact, they'd probably be encouraged by having less "plebs" contending with them.

    But I wholeheartedly agree with the idea of actual marine reserves.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • Dan Salmon,

    Marine reserves make so much sense on so many levels (not least of which is scientific), the tI wonder how much of the resistance to them is prejudice. "The greenies want them, so they must be bad."

    Auckland • Since Mar 2011 • 40 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    Steven Joyce's 'angler management' courses are paying off...

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7953 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Dan Salmon,

    Yeah it's weird because recreational types love them too. It's pretty awesome to go swimming or boating somewhere that is actually even less touched by human hands than even before industrialized fishing came here. It's a tourist attraction in its own right, and it has to be a source of biodiversity to have a truly wild region, not even slightly cultivated.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    I guess there's a lot more recreational fishers than divers, though.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • Luke Williamson,

    They are promising recreational fishers something they essentially already have. As you pointed out, there is almost no commercial fishing in the inner Gulf, and what there is is of the best sort – small, targeted and quota managed.
    What recreational fishers won’t face up to, with respect to the inner Gulf in particular, is that they are equally responsible for over fishing. This will only increase as the population of Auckland increases. They howl at and blame commercial fishing in the outer Gulf but, in the whole of the Snapper 1 zone (north east of North Island), the recreational catch is almost equal to the commercial catch.
    There needs to be at least a 20% cut in snapper quota for both recreational and commercial fishers if we are to see any significant improvement in popuation by the next census (in about four years). In conjunction with many more no-take marine reserves, there would be some chance of significant rebuild of fish stocks. However, both recreational fishers (in the form of individuals and bodies such as Legasea) and commercial fishers are vehemently opposed to reserves anywhere, any time.
    One of the latest reserves to be announced, at Kaikoura, has been so knobbled by the interests of iwi and fishers that there is some uncertainty as to whether it will produce much in the way of improvements to the environment and fish stocks. It is dubbed the AK47 reserve because of the shape imposed upon it by various competing interests.
    As usual, no one speaks up for the rights of fish.

    Warkworth • Since Oct 2007 • 297 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Luke Williamson,

    pisced off...

    As usual, no one speaks up for the rights of fish.

    as evidenced by this story :
    http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/news/67504117/Elephant-fish-impales-fisherman-with-7cm-spike

    As for his foe - its filleted remains were
    destined for the family dinner table

    Foe!?? !! - kidnap and murder victim surely...
    this 'sportsman' brought it all on himself.

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7953 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Luke Williamson,

    What recreational fishers won’t face up to, with respect to the inner Gulf in particular, is that they are equally responsible for over fishing.

    It's a hard thing to face up to, since most people's share of the blame is miniscule. It's the large number of people doing it that is the issue. A reduced bag limit is a pretty obvious thing to try, at least on the snapper. It's not like the other fish in the ocean aren't tasty too. I don't really understand our snapper obsession.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • Luke Williamson, in reply to BenWilson,

    Quite right Ben. That’s why small changes by a large group of people, like reducing bag limit from 9 to 7 snapper, can make a big difference. The bag limit in the Gulf should really come down to 5 or 6 per person as that is still plenty to feed your family. Fisherman need to get over the need to give some away to the neighbours etc, to show what great hunters they are.
    Equally, commercial catch in Snapper 1 needs to drop by at least 20% until there are demonstrable signs of population rebuild.
    Yes, snapper is the fish of choice for both recreational and commercial but other species are stressed as well, e.g. trevally, kahawai, crayfish, cockles, scallops, etc. Snapper and crayfish are the ones most fiercely contested by both recreational and commercial fishers.
    My campaign-du-jour is to try and drum up enthusiasm for keeping Astrolabe Reef closed to fishing following the Rena sinking, and move it towards a permanent reserve. The hard yards are already done in terms of excluding fishers from the zone around the reef and it is nearly four years old now (I think). There is some impressive anecdotal evidence from divers about the lush schools of fish around the reef now.
    Tell your friends.

    Warkworth • Since Oct 2007 • 297 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    You could have a no-motor-boats rule in some areas? So you can catch fish off the beach, or from a kayak, which would slow people down a bit

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    The entire QMS scheme, adopted at the height of Rogernomics, appeared on the surface to be around allocating a tradable property right that would allow for closer management. However the QMS with it’s masses of paperwork, user-pay cost recovery mentality and creation of a massive economic barrier to new owner operator entry (the cost of buying quota, the very high cost of doing business in NZ’s marine sector) has seen what I believe was a planned outcome – the concentration of more and more quota into the hands of large fishing corporations, who can “more efficiently” catch the stock. In particular, the creation of a property right was quite deliberately used to give something for Maori to buy with their treaty settlement money. While the QMS has been quite successful for the extended EEZ, it’s been a disaster for the average Joe Kiwi small business fisherman in the inshore fishery. Once bustling little fishing ports have fallen silent, and the cost of decent, fresh seafood (set by large fishing companies and driven by export prices and big profit margins) means it is now out of the reach of huge numbers of New Zealanders – to me, it is an obscenity that most people in a nation of just 4.5 million surrounded by the worlds third largest EEZ can’t afford to eat fresh fish regularly unless they are rich enough to own a boat or just plain rich enough.

    To my mind, a radical approach is called for within the 12 mile limit. I would abolish the QMS for the inshore (12 nautical mile) commercial finfish fisheries and replace it with licenced fishing zones with strict criteria, for example a tonnage/length/horsepower formula, technology constraints, a requirement for the owner to be aboard when at sea, and a total for allowable days at sea. The biggest advantage of such of system is the elimination of the paperwork overhead of the QMS by-catch, the return of the small owner-operator, and with it the chance to again buy some fish over the wharf without the middleman getting his cut first. It would be less efficient, but it would be way less destructive and it would fufil the important cultural aim of bringing seafood back within range of the ordinary Kiwi family.

    The biggest problem with the general recreational fishery is the refusal of it’s representatives to take responsibility for the massive fishing pressure of the recreational fleet. Tell a recreational fisherman that they responsible for up to half of all the fish caught in the northern region and you’ll be met with outright denial. In Auckland and north the amount of boats around over the summer break reaches pandemic proportions – I’ve seen five boats around the meanest of pimples, and five boats x4 rods is 20 hooks in the water. Some recreational fishing boats I’ve seen have better electronic suites than an anti-submarine frigate. Recreational fishing needs some serious technological handbrakes – I’d ban the recreational use of advanced fish finders straight away if I had my way. The guts of it is we can’t continue to approach managing the recreational fishing fleet of a small area with over 1.5 million people equipped with all-weather boats and advanced fishing equipment in it the same way we did when only half that number lived here and they no had GPS, fish finders or radar and only went out when it was flat calm.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2217 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to ,

    why do we need a license to catch trout?

    To pay for the trout hatchery to breed them?

    Why aren't trout farmed and sold commercially in NZ? It's not like they're a native species that needs to be protected.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to ,

    Trout tastes fine to me, when I go overseas and can thus buy it. And NZers are happy to eat hoki, which tastes slightly off even when it's fresh.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Tom Semmens,

    I think you're right that rec fishers are better equipped than ever before, but a bag limit takes all of that into account and goes straight to the root problem - too many fish being taken. You can have all the fancy gear you like, but if you can only take 5 snapper home all your gear does is mean that you're finished fishing in half the time. For those who really enjoy a whole day out on the water, this means a lot more catch-and-release, even on legal sized ones, which is all the fun of fishing, without the destruction of population. We already have to do it with the little ones. Or they can catch some other fish species.

    Some measures against too much technology might work, but ultimately I think it comes down to how many you're getting. A long line is far more time-efficient than rods. I don't really have a problem with someone setting one of those and getting their whole day's fishing done in an hour, if while pulling it up, they take only the limit, and throw back all the little ones. It lacks almost all of the enjoyment of fishing to me, but I guess they like fish more than fishing.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    It is pretty amazing that you're allowed to take up to 3 75cm kingfish per day. Each one of which could feed a family.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to ,

    Catching and releasing fish just for fun, is really sick. But it’s culturally acceptable, so doing its not going tick any boxes...

    A cartoon which I can no longer find, but which made a deep impression back when I saw it, had an interesting take on that theme. It portrayed an angler who takes pity on an undersized fish, and basks in the feeling of having done a good deed after he returns it to the sea. What he doesn't know is that biting a baited hook is a capital crime among the fishes, and the one he imagined he'd reprieved is tried and beheaded by the undersea authorities, complete with tolling bells and a hooded executioner.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4593 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Catching and releasing fish just for fun, is really sick.

    I pretty much meant doing it when you're fishing with the intention to eat some of them. If you like the fishing experience at all, then the experience of reeling in a fish that you then release has pretty much all the same ingredients apart from the actual eating (which you will do on the ones you do keep). I don't think there's anything particularly sick about enjoying that experience. But that's just an opinion, of course.

    I do agree that doing it with deep sea fish is much less acceptable, considering the high death rates from barotrauma, and various other traumas.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to ,

    We just irradiated lots of opossums.

    That wasn't for sport! In fact, sportsmen are super bitter on it, because it's less little mammals for them to blow away.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    We just irradiated lots of opossums

    Is that the new approach to pest control - drop slugs of Cobalt-60 around the woods so the 'possums just have to crawl buy them and get nuked? I'm sure people won't object to that.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • linger,

    Guns were involved last time Steven mentioned doing this, so I assumed it was just a typo for “eradicated”. Maybe I was wrong!

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1943 posts Report Reply

  • Luke Williamson, in reply to Tom Semmens,

    Bang on with the inshore fishery and smaller craft Tom. QMS was an astounding breakthrough when it was first implemented, and put NZ in the forefront of fisheries management in the world. But it has become all those things you say and only just fulfils its role as a good management weapon. It can only get worse as the current government tries to drive through 20% increases in export earnings.

    The politicisation of the QMS was evident in the report into snapper quota for SNA1 in 2013. The scientists said that Bay of Plenty stocks were down to an estimated 6% of original biomass which exceeds the Ministry's technical limit for 'collapse' (less than 10%). However, the Ministry report, compiled by bureaucrats rather than scientists, combined the figures for the Hauraki Gulf (estimated at 20-22% or original biomass) and BOP in order to gloss over the appalling state of the fishery in BOP.

    I agree with Ben that bag limits will take care of recreational fishing pressure in SNA1 as long as they are kept current and based on scientific research, not emotion.

    Your comment about technology limits does bring up a point I made (unsuccesfully) to a fishing friend recently, that recreational fishing is becoming more and more elitist. For all their talk about the rights of your average citizen to just go out and ‘catch a feed’, it is harder and harder to do that without a big boat and expensive equipment. And by being in denial about the need for further real cuts to recreational bag limits and commercial catches, there will be no significant increase in fish populations, and it will get increasingly harder to ‘catch a feed’.

    Warkworth • Since Oct 2007 • 297 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Luke Williamson,

    it is harder and harder to do that without a big boat and expensive equipment

    Although at the same time access to a boat and good equipment has never been easier. It still seems to be a sport that attracts all demographics, even if the super rich have become even more ridiculous than ever. I don't think they're really putting that many more hooks into the water, just by being rich.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

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