Another successful conference

ENL Shield presented to Ritchie Kibblewhite with huge support from his wife Jean Photo credit – Donna Wells

The NZ Federation of Commercial Fishermen held their annual conference at the beginning of June. The conference brings fishers and supporters together from across New Zealand to network and catch up on the latest issues and recent innovations related to fishing and the marine environment.

Delegates heard from Hon David Parker via a live zoom connection from his office, followed by further insight from his officials from Fisheries New Zealand reporting on the recent Fisheries Amendment Bill reforms, which includes video cameras on fishing vessels as well as number of other matters. Maritime NZ, Fisheries Inshore NZ and Seafood NZ are regular

presenters at conference and provided updates on all changes nautical and marine fishing related. Running concurrent to the conference is a trade exhibition for suppliers to present their wares to fishers.

The conference day is followed by a traditional Fish & Chip dinner, which has been held for over 50 years, and is then followed by the NZ Shipwreck Trust auction. Before the auction gets underway, an important presentation is made by Electronic Navigation Ltd to a member who has gone beyond to support and promote the federation. This year’s recipient was Ritchie Kibblewhite from Splashzone Marine, who is not only our auctioneer but runs a thriving fishing and marine business with his wife Jean, based in the Central Hawkes Bay.

Federation members and partners heading off on a coach tour of Central Hawkes Bay to view the sights and taste the local delicacies. Photo credit – Donna Wells

The amount raised this year was approximately $58,000, which surpassed that taken at the conference in Dunedin last year. The Shipwreck Trust assists the families of those lost at sea to cover costs whilst those matters are settled.

The second day of the conference programme includes the formality of the annual general meeting but also includes a celebration to the commitment of the fisher’s partners. The federation, through sponsorship by Sunderland Marine, arrange a coach tour for the day around the region, allowing the partners a chance to relax and see the sights and sample some local delicacies, wines and a special lunch at the Mission Estate.

Review of fishstocks

Fisheries NZ have recently notified consultation on a selection of fishstocks with a number of those around the South Island. For Southern Inshore they include tarakihi, gemfish, red gurnard, rig, blue cod, and blue warehou in Taranaki, as well as a proposed change in the deemed value for kingfish.

The reviews are generally based on the most recent science data from stock assessments and trawl surveys conducted on both the east and west coasts of the South Island. Southern Inshore contract independent scientists to complete some stock assessments, where others go through the Fisheries NZ science procurement process. All presentations go through the Fisheries NZ working group peer review process. A substantial level of the costs (75% -100%) for this science is either paid direct or via the cost recovery process from the commercial sector. The burden of cost is generally higher on the commercial sector for a number of fishstocks.

The majority of the current proposals include increases to the quota levels, which is termed the total allowable commercial catch (TACC), and adjustments to the overall total allowable catch (TAC) and other sector allowances. Southern Inshore closely monitor the catch in 104 fishstocks and promote the research requirements for a number of commercially important ones, that are also shared fisheries. Over a number of year’s, the company has promoted a step-wise approach to increases to the TACC’s with regular monitoring. Requests for TACC increases are made off the back of this research and long-term catch trends.

We believe the same should apply for proposals to decrease TACC’s but recently those proposals have come with deficient science justification. There can be a number of factors that can cause the lack of catch in some fisheries. It does not necessarily mean a problem in that fishery just that settings of some associated stocks, market forces and fuel prices, to name a few, can impact the level of catch. There needs to be more justification, characterisation and science by Fisheries NZ to propose a reduced TACC other than it is simply not being caught and ask submitters to provide that information.

The consultation documents can be found at consultations

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