Slow change a-coming

Most have heard the phrase ‘the only constant is change,’ which is attributed to the ancient Greek philosopher, Heraclitus. While change might be the one constant in life since ancient times, another constant is the fear of change.

Those of us who have been involved in fisheries over the long term know that most ministers have been fearful of making legal or policyrelated changes to improve the way recreational fisheries are managed.

Stated another way, for many ministers, fisheries simply haven’t been worth risking much political capital; best to avoid rocking the boat and focus on the more important portfolios. This risk-aversive sentiment drives public servant attitudes and behaviours.

The consequence for recreational fisheries is that fisheries management is largely based on guesswork, since little is known about what is caught or the effort expended, let alone knowledge about the value that fishers place on their fishing experiences. Worse yet, successive governments have also failed to address tough problems confronting shared fisheries, those where tensions can escalate between competing sectors.

Notwithstanding that, for several years, worldwide there have been recognised needs to change the way recreational fisheries are managed, and improved data collection could drive those changes. To further that goal, several overseas jurisdictions have piloted and implemented fisher selfreporting smartphone apps. For example, since 2015, the US Federal Government has had grant programmes to support self-reporting app developments.

Collecting recreational catch and effort, social, and economic data that support transparent and participatory management and conservation is a key part of the National Saltwater Recreational Fisheries Policy.

More recently, the State of Victoria’s Fisheries Authority launched a recreational fisher app, GoFishVic, the first of its kind in Australia. The Victorian Fisheries Authority also endorses a statewide recreational fisheries ‘roundtable’; a forum for identifying areas of agreement on strategic issues and facilitating policy options that assist the Authority to achieve its strategic vision.

In comparison, Fisheries New Zealand (MPI) lacks a strategic vision, or policy, for the recreational fishing sector, while its predecessor, the Ministry of Fisheries, abandoned the recreational sector forum approach decades ago.

To address this situation, in 2020 Fish Mainland developed the South Island Recreational Fisheries Policy fishmainland. nz This policy sets out 10 key principles, including management decision making that affects recreational fishing being based on sound scientific, ecological, social, cultural and economic information.

Fish Mainland has also worked with MPI’s Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures to secure funding to develop Mainland Catch, a smartphone app for South Island marine recreational fishers. Mainland Catch is an intuitive and simple app designed by Fish Mainland and Fisheries New Zealand and tested by South Island fishers. Our website has links to download Mainland Catch and videos on how easy it is to use.

The expansion of Mainland Catch into more recreational fisheries is going well, though it can encounter technical challenges. If you encounter any problems, please contact us directly [email protected]

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.

Finally, in the lead up to the 14 October general election, Fish Mainland will enquire about each political parties’ views on our policy’s proposed changes for managing shared fisheries. We will report back on what we find out.

We 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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