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Mpi review of sustainability and other management controls for snapper 1 ( SNA 1) Paper no 2103/31

12 Dec 2017
by Greg Hill

How to Catch Fewer Snapper

The Ministry of Primary Industries’ (MPI) review of the sustainability of fishing the “SNA 1” New Zealand fishing region is happening right now, and it has the potential to dramatically change your day out fishing.

Here’s the crux of their plan: recreational fishers are likely be allocated the 1997 catch allowance (2500 – 2730 tonnes) – that’s three snapper each. Currently the allowance is nine. Landable fish size might also increase, from 27cm to 35/36cm. But they are not planning any cuts for commercial fishing. What?

Come on! That’s not fair. Recreational snapper catch limits were cut from 15 to 9 in 1997. Since 1986 the limit has been lowered in stages from 30 to 20 to 15 to nine… now three?

Why is the recreational fisher taking the hit? It’s not the recreational fisher who wastes at least 450 tonnes of fish (each year).

The estimated commercial fishing-related mortality rate is 450 tonnes a year. That is fish that is caught and dumped. The MPI says that that figure may be 15% more (another 67 tonnes). Many say that the real figure is likely to be higher, because of alleged under reporting. An MPI guy told me they “do not have the right information”.

All that dumped fish should be counted, not wasted. If that had to happen, wasteful commercial fishing practices would change overnight. Surely cutting the commercial catch’s of waste would have a greater impact on fish numbers – and prove to be more sustainable and ethical – than cutting the recreational fishing quota so dramatically.

Everyone agrees that the fishery must be managed and protected. A lower snapper limit, and bigger snapper, is okay by me. But any cuts should be fair, backed by up-to date, accurate statistics, and shared between the recreational and commercial sectors. Commercial fishers have rights, but should they have more rights than recreational fishers?

Of course, these days, it is all about the dollar; the export dollar. But the MPI should not underestimate the economic benefits that recreational fishing has in New Zealand-the figures are on a par with commercial fishing. After all, at least twenty percent of us like to fish. That’s a lot of votes.

The MPI, and current Government, would be very unwise to underestimate how strongly recreational fishers feel about this issue.

More details legasea.co.nz

Put SNA1 in the search box to view review at this web address. mpi.govt.nz

Submissions to

Ministry for Primary Industries

PO Box 2526

Wellington 6140

New Zealand

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