Lifelong love for fishing led to being part of team protecting resources

Like a lot of people, Tanya McConaghey has been a fishing enthusiast for as long as she can remember so becoming an Honorary Fishery Officer (HFO) is her way of ensuring that will continue, by helping protect the Marlborough fishery.

“I love being part of the HFO network. We’re doing what we can as volunteers to protect the fishery and keep it sustainable, so that future generations are able to enjoy the fun of fishing for a feed of kaimoana in the same way I did,” she says.

Originally from Christchurch, she says a fair bit of her after school life was spent at the estuary in South Brighton catching crabs so to catch cockabullies which in turn would catch herrings.

“My friend and I would go down to the estuary with no gear, but we would find snagged lines and hooks in the rocks, washed in from the sea and with those we’d fashion makeshift handlines and that’s how we did our fishing in those early days. It was a lot of fun,” she says.

She says her family lived next to a commercial fisherman who had a bach in Kaikoura and her whanau would often stay with them.

“I’d spend my days collecting mussels and pāua at low tide. If I was lucky, I’d get to go out in their boat and catch blue cod and sea perch.” Tanya has been an HFO for three years, serving in the Marlborough region, but last summer she was temporarily employed as a paid Fisheries NZ Fishery Officer.

“It was a fantastic experience. Alongside Fishery Officer Jim Dixon, I spent time on the water aboard the MPI vessel ‘Nelson 1’ cruising around Port Underwood in the Marlborough Sounds. It was such a liberating feeling at sea.

She’s heard all kinds of excuses from people with excess or undersize fish.

“On our sea patrol, we spoke to a guy in possession of an undersized blue cod. He suggested it was our fault as he’d measured it on an MPI measuring sticker that was on his boat. It was one of the more amusing excuses I’ve heard.

My advice is that when measuring – if it doesn’t look 100 percent accurate and you have to measure it and debate whether it is legal – it probably isn’t. Exercise a little patience and return it to the ocean and catch a blue cod that is the correct length.”

Tanya spent 15 days both on the road and water in the Marlborough Sounds during her stint as a paid Fishery Officer.

“We had numerous encounters with avid fishers, who were mostly compliant with rules. We also updated some Fisheries’ signs and sailed with a large pod of bottlenose dolphins alongside us which was an experience to remember.

We can all do our part in looking after our local fishery or fisheries we visit by following the rules. To find out how, download the free NZ Fishing Rules App wherever you get your apps from and protect our kaimoana for future generations,” she says.

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