The Goal? To re-establish abundant fisheries in Fiordland

The Fiordland Marine Guardians

If you’re heading into Fiordland this summer, set aside time to familiarise yourself with the fishing rules and get your device ready to record your catch. Popular species including blue cod, pāua and hapuku/groper require rebuilding, and that is going to require the whole community to get onboard.

New amateur fishing regulations and bag limits for the Fiordland Marine Area are expected to be in place next month (Jan 2024) following four-years of information gathering, proposals and consultation. The Fiordland Marine Guardians began this process after members of the fishing community raised concerns about the sustainability of fisheries under the current rules.

The new regulations will establish a Fishing Line across the headlands of each fiord, and bag and daily species limits will be set to incentivise fishing activity on the open coast. This is a move to protect more vulnerable stocks and to encourage fishing effort on the most productive grounds that exist on the open coastline. The new settings will still allow fishing inside the fiords, but at a lower level.

A message that the Guardians heard loud and clear from the recreational fishing community is that you want to start contributing your fishing data so we can manage the fisheries in a more informed and responsive way. With the imminent change to Fiordland’s amateur fishing rules, and the development of the reporting app Mainland Catch, it is time to act.

With data comes power, and that couldn’t be more relevant than with fisheries management. The Guardians and Fisheries New Zealand are making management decisions in an environment of some uncertainty. By reporting your fishing effort and catch, we will be in a stronger position to assess which direction stocks are heading in, and this will be able to be tuned to different parts of Fiordland. Also, for the first time we will all be able to get a sense of the collective fishing effort by all fishers, across all sectors. This information will support recreational fishers when they are consulted on any future management proposals.

As Fish Mainland say, “The benefit for fishers is that better data informs management decisionmaking”. In other words, the benefit is in providing a basis for action or a recommendation to improve fisheries that are important to recreational fishers.”

One feature of the new rules is the introduction of tiered daily species limits and total bag limits according to which side of the Fishing Line you are on. 

This presents a challenge from a compliance perspective, because fishers will need to be able to provide information to support their claims of where fish were caught. This is where Mainland Catch can help. The app automatically records where each fish was caught, providing a straightforward means of demonstrating you are fishing within the rules.

Datacom are currently working on improvements to the app, so we advise getting the latest version before you head in. Fish Mainland are confident that these improvements will take the app to the “next level”.

You can download Mainland Catch for free at www. fishmainland.nz or from your app store. Remember to download the app before you head in to the fiords as there is no mobile data coverage once you head over those hills.

Take care out there, look out for each other, and please do your bit to look after this incredibly special place. We figure it’s a privilege to be able to enjoy Fiordland, and we all have a responsibility to ensure future generations can enjoy it too.

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