Southern Fishery Officers cracking down on fishers using blue cod as bait

MPI Fishery Officers in Otago and Southland are on the lookout for anyone using undersized blue cod as bait.

“During recent inspections of boats at sea, we gave infringement notices to a number of fishers who had undersize blue cod on their bait boards,” says MPI Regional Manager for the Lower South Island, Garreth Jay.

Blue cod is an iconic fish in the deep south.

Fishers who are caught in possession of blue cod that is less than 33 cm or in an unmeasurable state risk an instant $250 infringement notice.

If evidence is found of more serious offending – MPI could put the matter before the court where the penalties could be as high as a $10,000 fine.

“It has never been an acceptable practice to take undersize blue cod or use it as bait to catch other fish. The blue cod fishery is under pressure and catch limits in some areas have been reduced to ensure it will be sustainable into the future.

“Fishery Officers will take a hard line on this sort of fishing activity – it’s simply unacceptable and unnecessary,” Garreth Jay says.

In October 2020, blue cod daily catch limits were reduced to alleviate fishing pressure on southern blue cod stocks because of concern about sustainability of this fishery. The minimum size was also increased from 30 to 33cm.

It should be noted that the rules vary for different fishing areas in the Otago and Southland fishery.

The blue cod daily catch limit per fisher south of Taiaroa Head is 15, while the limit north of Taiaroa Head is 10. There is a lower blue cod daily limit of 2 in the East Otago Taiapure area which runs between Karitane Peninsula through to Purakaunui.

“The rules are there for a reason and when we find evidence of deliberate offending – we will take action. In the past 6 months there have been 42 individual cases of people using blue cod as bait,” Garreth Jay says.

MPI encourages all recreational fishers to know the fishing rules for your area. The best way of doing this is to download the NZ Fishing Rules mobile app.

Meanwhile, to further highlight the pressure on blue cod, from October 2021, the commercial total allowable catch for blue cod were reduced by 20% in Otago and 40% in Southland.

If you become aware of any suspicious fishing activity, call us on 0800 4 POACHER (0800 47 62 24) or email [email protected]

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