Managing recreational fisheries – not for the faint of heart

Access is a key issue for rec fishers

2022 will be remembered as the year we learnt to live with COVID-19. Fortunately, there were more opportunities for South Island fishers than in the previous year, as evident by increasing numbers of boats on the water and hand gatherers at the first Kaikoura pāua fishery since the 2016 earthquake.

That said, the strain on governmental management of recreational fisheries is becoming more apparent. Kaikoura highlighted the guess work behind government estimates of recreational catch and doubts about the sole use of daily bag and season limits to constrain catch.

During the year, Fish Mainland has helped government agencies, wherever possible, to improve the management of South Island fisheries. Our purpose is based on the adage that the secret to change is in focusing efforts on building something new, not fighting the old way of doing things. On that basis, we consider the first step is to help agencies by collecting better data on recreational catch. In so doing, fishers can have a greater voice in defining problems and workable solutions regarding how to sustainably harvest, while lessening our impact on fisheries and the marine environment.

Catchy App for Mainland fishers

Fish Mainland, in collaboration with the Nelson-based Plink Software Ltd, has developed a recreational fisher selfreporting system first applied to the blue cod fishery and currently expanding into other fisheries. The data is collected via a mobile app, appropriately named Mainland Catch. Links to download Mainland Catch and videos on how easy it is to use can be found on our website: fishmainland. nz

Our second step for improvements this past year focused on access for recreational fishers. Without access, fishing opportunities can be curtailed significantly. For this purpose, we worked with the Clutha District Council (CDC) regarding what matters most in reducing the effect of vehicles on public safety and enjoyment of beaches and protection of the coastal environment. We consider the CDC’s recent decisions address the issues without unnecessarily restricting public access to beaches.

Delaware Bay issue could impact all beach access 

Unfortunately, the situation regarding the Delaware Bay (Wakapuaka) Estuary could adversely impact on access and public safety. The bay’s estuary has been used for generations to launch and retrieve small boats. It is a safe option for those who launch at nearby Cable Bay and get caught out with prevailing conditions or for those who launch at Nelson but cannot safely return.

However, the Nelson City Council (NCC), with local Iwi support, object to the public’s right to launch and retrieve boats. This has led to the NCC taking the matter to the Environment Court based on a particular interpretation of the Nelson Resource Management Plan.

Fish Mainland has supported the Delaware Bay Access Group’s objection to the NCC’s interpretation of this plan. Fish Mainland and the Access Group maintain there is a better way to resolve opposing positions than using ratepayers’ funds in court.

Netting ban ludicrous

Finally, we continue to be outspoken on the set net ban in Golden and Tasman Bays. To be clear, we fully support applying the set net ban where netting poses a risk to incidentally

killing or seriously injuring Hector’s or Maui Dolphins. And we do not object to the ban applying in Golden and Tasman Bays, despite the dearth of supporting evidence.

We object to the ban applied to the longstanding netting areas of inland waterways without any justification whatsoever. Locals have set netted in these waterways for generations without ever sighting a dolphin.

There is no shortage of issues impacting on South Island recreational fishing. Please 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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