Shared fisheries require working together

When thinking about this past year’s key fisheries management problems, Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity comes to mind; Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. This definition is apparent in the following fisheries problems.

First, recreational fishing remains in the political ‘too hard basket.’ This situation has caused recreational fisheries to be managed largely on guesswork. In other words, little is known about what is caught or the effort expended, let alone knowledge about the value that recreational fishers place on their fishing experiences.

This is due to successive governments having failed to invest much in recreational fisheries, despite more recently spending $5 million for each occasion of the National Panel Survey.

Questions have arisen about the value for money given most of the cost for the Survey is spent finding who fishes, and the cost limits its use to every 5 to 6 years, which impacts on management responsiveness.

Fish Mainland maintains there is a better way of finding who fishes and collecting their valued data for improving management decision making, and at a fraction of the cost of the National Panel Survey.

MPI has funded the development of a recreational fisher selfreporting system, the Mainland Catch app that is now available for South Island fishers.

Links to download Mainland Catch and videos on how easy it is to use can be found on our website: fishmainland.nz

The outstanding problem is securing funding for Mainland Catch’s ongoing operation. However, Fisheries New Zealand contends that it cannot fund the system.

A review of its current expenditure and value for money on recreational data gathering would suggest that wide utilisation of Mainland Catch would provide better quality and real time data with less funding that allows for more timely management decisions.

Second, the way recreational fisheries are managed relies heavily on tools whose sole use has become outdated; these tools comprise daily bag and size limits, along with some spatial and temporal limits.

The problem with the use of these tools alone is that sustainability can be compromised whenever we cannot determine what was caught or the tools cannot limit total catches to recreational allowances. The recent re-opening of the Kaikoura paua fishery is a classic example.

Fish Mainland continues to work with the Kaikoura community and other communities on the Mainland to find the combination of tools that work best, thus avoiding a one-size-fits-all approach that often creates more problems than it solves.

Finally, successive governments have also failed to address the tough problems confronting shared fisheries, where the fishing sectors have a shared interest in taking a fish stock.

Conflict between commercial and recreational fishing sectors is almost unavoidable. These conflicts often become exacerbated if the fishing sectors consider that government officials are not listening to their concerns and ideas and are failing to establish policies and organisational structures that better define legal rights, responsibilities, and standards for effective management.

Based on the experience of Fish Mainland’s Board of Directors, the organisation avoids blaming the commercial sector as the source of problems. Instead, the directors approach that sector respectfully and with the intent to resolve problems in ways that benefit all parties.

According to Jim Crossland, the Chair of the Board, “Our focus for resolution is on the goals that both sectors share – greater fish stock abundance, fair and equitable total catch allocations, and better fishing experiences. We all need to work together to mitigate the inherent insanity in managing fisheries.”

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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