The Fiordland Marine Guardians say new recreational fishing rules will hopefully help to rebuild hard-hit fisheries and maintain them into the future.
Oceans and Fisheries Minister Rachel Brooking recently approved new rules which include reducing daily species and bag limits for many finfish and shellfish species within the fiords, closing the oyster and scallop fisheries in Fiordland, and introducing more restrictive fishing zones at each fiord's entrance – Fishing Lines.
Under these rules, the daily combined finfish limit would be reduced from 30 to 20 per person outside the Fishing Lines, and to 10 inside the Fishing Lines.
The Fiordland Marine Guardians recommended the changes to the recreational and commercial fishing rules in the Fiordland Marine Area.
Initially, the changes also included reducing the total take of rock lobsters, but that was not approved.
Guardians chairperson and marine biologist Dr Rebecca McLeod said the changes would help support sustainable fisheries in Fiordland.
"What we've done is make some changes to the rules that will hopefully see us rebuild some fisheries that are in serious trouble and maintain others so that in the future it's really easy for people to go in there and catch a feed," McLeod said.
"They really are the biggest changes to amateur fishing (regulations) in Fiordland since the Guardians first came into being in 2005 so it's a big deal."
The mission of the Guardians is to protect fisheries for future generations.
"Information that's come to light in the last few years has made us realise that we're not on track for reaching that vision and that's because the number of visitors and the number of fishers in the Fiordland Marine Area has increased over time. The rules that were put in place in 2005 are just no longer fit for purpose, unfortunately," McLeod said.
The changes will be in place before the end of the year.
"We're feeling really relieved that these changes are going to be in place for the coming summer season because some of these fisheries are in pretty serious trouble, particularly blue cod, hapuku, and paua."
Fisheries New Zealand had started consulting on additional changes proposed by the Guardians, involving limiting the number of fish and shellfish allowed onboard recreational boats and banning certain bulk harvesting methods in the entrances of fiords, including setlines for recreational and commercial fishers and cod potting.
"It targets the really big vessels that can take large fishing parties into Fiordland, and collectively, say you've got 10 to 15 fishers onboard, they can do quite a lot of damage just in local areas if they've all got a line over the side and they're all fishing legally, but collectively they can have quite a big impact," McLeod said.
That was where boat limits of four times the daily species and combined bag limits would come in.
She said The Guardian team would now switch their focus to monitoring, to ensure they could assess what differences were made during the next five years, whether they were sufficient or whether some could be wound back.
- NZ Fishing News