Fish Mainland: working to improve South Island fisheries for all who fish

In 2010, three South Islanders (Laurel Teirney, Alan Key and the late Nelson Cross) developed a document titled Securing a Fishing Future, which sought to address the historical lack of attention towards improving fisheries that are important to recreational fishers.

Securing a Fishing Future proposed to replace the fragmented representation of recreational fishing interests with a unified voice by establishing a selffunded, single organisation. This proposal attracted broad support amongst South Island recreational fishers. However, it faltered when considered by North Island recreational fishing interests and the then Ministry of Fisheries.

In 2016 and 2017, Randall Bess researched recreational fisheries in New Zealand and overseas, which led to a series of recommendations in his final report titled, The Future Catch. Central to these recommendations was the establishment of a professional, well-funded organisation like that set out in Securing a Fishing Future.

In 2019, a group, including Randall Bess, Alan Key and other South Islanders, met to design what has become Fish Mainland, which was incorporated in 2020 to represent South Island recreational fishers’ interests.

In 2021, Fish Mainland gained charitable status. With this status came a broadening of its purpose beyond representation of recreational fishing interests.

Fish Mainland’s purpose now is to coordinate and assist the South Island marine fishing community in restoring and sustaining fisheries resources for the benefit of all who fish in the waters of the South Island. Fish Mainland’s Board of Directors considers the changes required for charitable status better reflect our focus on the sustainability of fisheries and the marine environment and our collaborative approach with government, Iwi and the other fishing sectors and interests to ensure sustainability. Accordingly, we support government’s efforts to improve the collection of data to make the best management decisions for ‘shared’ fisheries, those fisheries where all fishing sectors share an interest in taking more of the fish stock or stocks, and they value their share quite differently.

For this purpose, MPI’s Sustainable Food & Fibre Futures has funded the development of a recreational fisher selfreporting app, appropriately named Mainland Catch. Mainland Catch is an intuitive and simple app designed by Fish Mainland and Fisheries New Zealand (MPI) and tested by South Island fishers. Our website has links to download Mainland Catch and videos on how easy it is to use: fishmainland.nz The benefit for fishers is in providing a basis for action or a recommendation to improve fisheries that are important to recreational fishers. Better data may also provide a basis for reducing environment impacts that benefit all fishing sectors. Our focus is now on expanding Mainland Catch to accommodate the recreational Kaikōura coastline pāua fishery that will be open from 15 April to 15 June.

As we know, the Kaikōura coastline pāua fishery was poorly managed last year during its first opening since the 2016 earthquake. During that opening, the recreational allowance was exceeded more than eightfold.

Fish Mainland’s Board of Directors strongly consider that recreational fishers must limit their total catch to ensure sustainability of any fish stock. This means fishing within size limits, daily bag limits and the Ministerial-set allowance.

If those limits or allowance warrant changes, then the best way to work towards change is with supporting data, which reduces politics as the driver for change.

We encourage all fishers to do their part in sustaining fisheries by fishing within set limits and using Mainland Catch to record their catch and effort data and, therefore, contribute towards improved management decision making.

We also encourage you to show your support for Fish Mainland by becoming a member for free and making donations via our website or bank account no 03-0823-0101056-000.

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