Fish Mainland—South Island fishers’ collective voice

Floundering – a thing of the past

Fish Mainland Inc works on behalf of South Island marine recreational fishers by relaying their collective voice on issues that could adversely impact on them. In so doing, we strongly believe that cooperation and sharing of ideas is the way forward; Fish Mainland works respectfully and collaboratively with government and all stakeholders in fisheries.

However, it takes time and effort to change entrenched patterns of engagement and processes that have the effect of marginalising the recreational voice, particularly those that strongly rely on public consultation. For example, earlier this year government officials proposed changes to daily bag limits on several finfish species. South Island fishers did not have any input into the way the alleged problem and solutions were defined. Input was restricted solely to making submissions.

The Hon David Parker’s recent decisions on this issue were disappointing. They appear to favour changes that reduce the administrative burden on his officials over protecting the daily quantum of fish that recreational fishers can lawfully take.

The National Blue Cod Strategy also eroded the quantum of recreational take. In addition, the strategy introduced a traffic light system without specifying the data needed to legitimise colour changes across management areas (e.g., differences in daily bag limits).

Fortunately, Fish Mainland was able to work closely with officials to design a recreational fisher selfreporting system to aid in providing evidence for possible future changes (increases or decreases) in daily limits of blue cod.

With the financial support of MPI’s Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures (SFF Futures), the self-reporting system is now in the early stages of implementation. It comprises an app, appropriately named Mainland Catch, to be used by recreational fishers to report their catch and effort and keep their data secure. In addition, Fish Mainland has received further funding from SFF Futures to expand the self-reporting system to include other species that are important to recreational fishers. For this purpose, two videos will be made available to the public that explain the overall system and the easy-to-use app.

Another challenge has been the government’s imposition of a recreational set net ban in Golden and Tasman Bays that eliminated longstanding fishing traditions. Fish Mainland contends there is no evidential base to support the ban, especially in the Bay’s estuaries, rivers, lagoons and inlets where locals have set netted for generations without ever sighting a dolphin. Fish Mainland fully supported applying the ban where netting posed a risk to dolphins. But the government should not have banned netting where there was no risk.

After pursuing all options, Fish Mainland had no recourse other than to lodge a complaint with the Parliamentary Regulations Review Committee regarding the Fisheries (Hector’s and Maui) Amendment Regulations 2020. The complaint was tabled with the committee late March, and it was uploaded to the parliament website. It can also be found on the Fish Mainland website www. fishmainland.nz We expect to receive an update from the committee in the very near future.

Finally, Fish Mainland supports new ways of funding recreational fisheries management. For starters, we have highlighted that boat-based fishers are required to pay hundreds of millions of dollars in petrol excise duty that fund roading projects. We contend that it would be equitable and fair to use a portion of these funds for recreational fisheries management activities.

This would require an amendment to the purposes listed under section 9(1) of the Land Transport Management Act 2003. Despite the Hon Michael Wood disagreeing, we continue to promote the fairness of this potential funding stream.

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