Mainland Catch – phone app

Blue cod is the largest shared fishery in South Island waters. It is the most popular recreational fishery, and so a significant portion of fishers’ annual expenditure can be directly attributed to it. The estimated annual value of the South Island commercial blue cod harvest is $6.5 million. The fishery is also valued by Maori customary fishers.

Currently, there is a dearth of data on the level of recreational catch and effort in this iconic fishery. To sustainably manage the fishery for all users, much improved data must be collected on recreational fishing.

Fish Mainland’s policy on South Island recreational fishing acknowledges that adequate and appropriate data on recreational fishing is fundamental to effective management decision making. For this purpose, Fish Mainland has successfully secured funding from the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) to improve the data collected on recreational fishing.

Specifically, the funding is being used to develop a Self-Reporting System to collect recreational catch and effort data on blue cod and bycatch to better manage the fishery, especially when considering the National Blue Cod Strategy does not stipulate the data needed to warrant a change in the traffic light system.

The Self-Reporting System can also provide data to address the unintended consequences of recent regulatory changes that prohibit fishers from filleting at sea and transiting through an area with blue cod on board that was taken in another area with a higher bag limit.

MPI recognises that the SelfReporting System’s development and implementation are the next best steps in the evolution of the Blue Cod Strategy.

The data is collected via an App used by recreational fishers, appropriately named Mainland Catch. Starting with the blue cod fishery, the overall Self-Reporting System: provides samples of recreational fisher reported data that provide broad signals, or indicator statistics, regarding trends in catch and effort for both targeted blue cod and bycatch within the different South Island management areas; and supports gaining recreational fishers’ buy-in of the National Blue Cod Strategy, specifically its traffic light system.

The success of the Mainland Catch is squarely in the hands of South Island fishers. Only fishers can provide the muchneeded data to improve the management of the largest shared fishery in South Island waters; fisher-provided data, compared with the other sectors’ data, will be the best way to substantiate when a ‘red’ area warrants becoming ‘amber’ or ‘green.’

The aim is to expand the Self-Reporting System to include other shared fisheries that are important to recreational fishers. Accordingly, Mainland Catch will lead to much improved, timely data that will provide the Minister of Oceans and Fisheries with more informed advice and recommendations about shared fisheries.

The data can be used to support decisions on sustainability measures, including allocations of the available yield between the fishing sectors and spatial and temporal access to mitigate localised depletion.

Similarly, those involved in shared fisheries, such as the commercial sector and Mandated Iwi Organisations, will have a better understanding of each fishery’s economic, social and cultural contribution and the trade-offs that could be made between the sectors.

The available data should encourage the other sectors to work with Fish Mainland to establish intersectoral discussions about management processes that will help form collective recommendations to the Minister in ensuring shared fisheries’ sustainability and reducing environmental impacts of fishing.

Soon, Fish Mainland will release videos on Mainland Catch, starting with an instructional video on how to use it. What this space.

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