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Milky White Flesh in Snapper - Update

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Category: Saltwater Fishing
Forum Name: The Briny Bar
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URL: https://www.fishing.net.nz/forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=137536
Printed Date: 18 Jun 2024 at 6:59pm


Topic: Milky White Flesh in Snapper - Update
Posted By: Grunta
Subject: Milky White Flesh in Snapper - Update
Date Posted: 20 Mar 2023 at 11:41am
This condition has been quite prevalent particularly in the Hauraki Gulf but also some reports from further north. Here's the latest from Fisheries New Zealand - MPI but the exec summary is evidence of nutritional deficiencies being more likely post spawn.

Reports of fish with milky white flesh
In 2022, the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) received reports of some snapper and trevally being caught that had flesh that looked "milky white" or "mushy". This is being referred to as "milky white flesh syndrome". While the syndrome has been seen and reported in previous years, it appears to be more common this season (2022-23).


White flesh of a fish with the syndrome. (Photo credit: Moana New Zealand)

We know the syndrome has been affecting snapper in the Hauraki Gulf and East Northland areas. There have also been some reports of the syndrome appearing in other finfish species, such as trevally.

Tests found no biosecurity or food safety concerns
Testing of snapper with this syndrome has found no reason for any biosecurity or food safety concerns. The main finding from the affected fish was evidence of nutritional deficiencies. This can happen after fish spawn.

A summary of the testing report will be published in the June 2023 edition of Biosecurity New Zealand's quarterly magazine, Surveillance.

Help determine the spread of milky white flesh syndrome
As a precaution, Biosecurity New Zealand is interested in reports of:

  • Affected snapper from outside the east of Auckland and Northland areas
  • In finfish other than snapper.
  • If you find any suspected cases, freephone our pest and disease hotline on 0800 80 99 66.

If you have samples to submit, keep them chilled (refrigerated) but not frozen. Samples are best when they can be analysed with 24 hours.

What we are doing about the syndrome
Fisheries New Zealand has commissioned NIWA to undertake research alongside a regular catch sampling programme for commercially caught snapper off the north-east of the North Island (SNA 1). This is to help understand any seasonal patterns and areas where the syndrome is most prevalent.

Filleting tables (professional filleting stations for charter and recreational fishers) in the Hauraki Gulf are also being monitored.

This research will continue through until September 2023.


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Online...



Replies:
Posted By: MB
Date Posted: 20 Mar 2023 at 12:03pm
Thanks for the update.


Posted By: Denny Boy
Date Posted: 20 Mar 2023 at 5:45pm
Yep-just recently I caught a Kahawai with this jellified flesh but the fish was very slabby indicating a spent spawner or was just in need of a lot of good feeds. I did try to fillet it but i wouldn't have got a cup of fillet off it......cat tucker. It's a while since I've caught one but the flesh reminded me of red cod in texture. 


Posted By: brmbrm
Date Posted: 20 Mar 2023 at 5:55pm
Out today from Takapuna: brought back 4 in the 40-45 range, 1 milky, the other 3 not.  The milky one was also the last caught and not as chilled when filleted.

I might do a "blind tasting test" when we eat them and see if anyone notices anything.....


Posted By: smudge
Date Posted: 20 Mar 2023 at 6:59pm
Yes good update but no surprises there. Every skinny fish I think I've ever caught has been like that. The last year though there certainly do appear to be more snapper from the east side in the mix. I haven't seen any from the west this year but then again we release the skinny ones but I don't recall doing that this year so something is clearly amiss. Having said that I have definitely seen them in that condition in December & January. 

Out our side though it is common to see kahawai like that in February. From April on though it is rare to see a milky one. I don't think I've ever seen a milky looking gurnard from off the coast but over summer in the harbour they are very common. Never in winter. Ten or more years ago I won the kahawai section of the CSFC One Base with a 3.1kg kahawai. It was around 73cm long and as skinny as. I used it for bait and the flesh was soft white and mushy. It was after that I started noticing the condition of fish and yepp the skinny ones always had white mushy flesh. We've had big kahawai workups in the Manukau lately. The fish are just smashing the whitebait and anchovies as the feed up to put on condition after spawning which I believe is in January and February out here

Trevally are one of my favourites to catch but have never seen one with milky flesh, yet they seem to be showing up out east.

I've always felt that it is a post spawning condition, but I believe gurnard spawn at least twice a year. I catch them in spring and again in winter full of roe. The winter fish in the harbour appear to recover way better than when they spawn in spring. The water temp in the harbour gets up to 27 degrees in the shallows on a hot day so I'm sure that is part of the equation.

IMO it's all to do with suitable conditions and food source available post spawning but then I'm not a rocket doctor Big smile

I'd like to hear Craig Worthington's thoughts on the subject.




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Best gurnard fisherman in my street


Posted By: brmbrm
Date Posted: 20 Mar 2023 at 7:12pm
Is there a common opinion about eating qualities?  Still good?


Posted By: strx7
Date Posted: 20 Mar 2023 at 7:37pm
Originally posted by smudge smudge wrote:


Trevally are one of my favourites to catch but have never seen one with milky flesh, yet they seem to be showing up out east.




Do you know when trevally spawn?  I got 4 trevally on 1 day in spring last year, 3 of which were thin and had white flesh.


Posted By: Pcj
Date Posted: 20 Mar 2023 at 7:52pm
Last lot fish we had were mint,Kahawai firm when splitting for smoker,snapper filleted well next day. No sign of milky flesh since before xmas. But we fish the the Firth .ponui/wilson bay/kaiaua

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"Times up"


Posted By: Grunta
Date Posted: 21 Mar 2023 at 10:55am
Originally posted by brmbrm brmbrm wrote:

Is there a common opinion about eating qualities?  Still good?
The flesh is almost jelly-like and I don't think anywhere near as good as a snapper in good nick.

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Online...


Posted By: Pcj
Date Posted: 21 Mar 2023 at 1:20pm
Originally posted by Grunta Grunta wrote:

Originally posted by brmbrm brmbrm wrote:

Is there a common opinion about eating qualities?  Still good?
The flesh is almost jelly-like and I don't think anywhere near as good as a snapper in good nick.
The milky ones we had,November,fish skinny and fillets fell apart. Starvation?? Those were from eastern side of Waiheke round towards Garden bay.

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"Times up"


Posted By: MB
Date Posted: 21 Mar 2023 at 2:07pm
I've seen lots fillets from snapper that were more opaque than others over the years/seasons, actually pretty common, but nothing like the one shown in the photo.


Posted By: Redfinger
Date Posted: 21 Mar 2023 at 4:14pm
Best the boffins have come up with is "environmental" as a cause - this could just mean the fish are starving and in that  prone to poor condition.... We shall see.
Very few fish caught in the shallows - less than 10m depth are like this.



Posted By: The Tamure Kid
Date Posted: 21 Mar 2023 at 8:32pm
I don't think it's a new phenomenon, possibly just more prevalent this year for the reason hinted at - a lack of post-spawning food for some natural reason?
I remember having the odd white-fleshed snapper among our bin of fish from the post-Christmas Tamaki Strait flats fishery dating back to the early 2000s. I think they have a more of a pale golden appearance on the outside, rather than a vibrant reddish with blue dots, and skinnier.

My elderly dad's from the Depression and WWII era where you eat everything, so the soft whities were eaten. I have to say that pan fried, they don't taste odd - obviously the softness and colour doesn't bode well, but when I snuck some white pieces into our panko meal a couple of months ago (because 2-3 of my 5 fish turned out to be white on filleting, and I'd already offered our friends some fish and felt I couldn't give them the white fillets) my family didn't notice!!

What I haven't seen before this season, that I recall, was the number of fish in spring which had soft reddish/purplish almost circular patches on the outside of the skin - which I think I read was a bacterial issue NIWA had identified. I initially wondered if it was a sign of tussling with other fish during spawning, but that was a mistaken guess.


Posted By: kitno
Date Posted: 21 Mar 2023 at 8:34pm
I've caught snapper like this in Tauranga. Generally December and January. Depth has varied from 1m in the harbour to 20m in open water. Also have caught kahawai on the western side of Coromandel early winter in the same condition.
Both these dates coincide with post spawning. I'd put money on the findings of this study will be the fish are simply spent from lack of good nutritional food while all efforts are concentrated on spawning. I'm sure they make a speedy recovery back to condition afterwards. It's easy to check before killing the fish. Look at the fish from directly above and either side of the dorsal fin should be full and plump, not shrunken looking.
As for eating quality, cat food.


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Top 10 finish
2024 Grunter Hunter.


Posted By: brmbrm
Date Posted: 21 Mar 2023 at 8:50pm
Thinking about it, in the last 6 months or so I have caught snapper off Tutukaka: zero milky-flesh fish.  And off Auckland: occasional milky-flesh

I'll check fish condition more closely but no obvoius difference in the way they fight when hooked


Posted By: Kandrew
Date Posted: 22 Mar 2023 at 7:32am
We went out on Sunday off Stanmore bay, picked up 10 and 2 or 3 were white fillets, they were the smaller ones, the larger ones were fine.

Been a lot of fresh water around this year with all the rain, wonder if the oxygen levels in the water are down.


Posted By: Pcj
Date Posted: 22 Mar 2023 at 7:06pm
Just filleted some frozen snapper. The2 x 38cm were perfect,firm,but the 42cm was mush,all gutted before bringing home and have a mussel flavour to them. Rolled in panko crumbs ,cooked in butter. Hmm nice.

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"Times up"


Posted By: Pcj
Date Posted: 26 Mar 2023 at 6:49am
Filleted 2 last night from Fridays outing. Both fish from same area .1 translucent the other soft/milky,both had crabs in cuts(gutted friday ) But guts smelt as gutted about 1hr after catching 45/50m mark      fish from 19m no issues, 36cm snapper

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"Times up"


Posted By: brmbrm
Date Posted: 28 Mar 2023 at 2:40pm
Photo from RNZ web site (https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/national/486867/snapper-in-hauraki-gulf-found-with-milky-white-flesh-syndrome-scientists-investigating).  Skinny fish alright





Posted By: Far Quirk
Date Posted: 28 Mar 2023 at 2:45pm
I've noticed that skinny fish are more likley to have milky flesh, so try to release them.  Sometimes they have "sunken shoulders" just above and behind the eyes.

As for bruising, I often see a lot of snapper with bruising on the lower side around spawning season.  I saw a video with male fish "butting" the females in the stomach to force out the eggs.  Anyone else have any info about this?  The bruises are generally about 30 to 40mm round, and red in the middle.


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Far Quirk - I'm goin' fishn!


Posted By: Alan L
Date Posted: 28 Mar 2023 at 5:19pm
Scientist interviewed today on RNZ said in some places about 20% have the symptoms.
Said the Comm guys have moved out of those areas.
Alan


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Legasea Legend member


Posted By: v8-coupe
Date Posted: 28 Mar 2023 at 5:30pm
I may be being over simplistic and/or even naive. I have spoken to many divers, both free and snorkel, who claim massive Kina barens abound in the gulf. Kina are apparently on the menu of Snapper. Surely a starving fish would head to these areas and have a field day. Is it that simple or am I being silly? Cheers.

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Legasea Legend Member


Posted By: MB
Date Posted: 28 Mar 2023 at 11:10pm
After saying that I've never seen a fish in this state, I did today. Thought it was odd when the knife went through the fillet like a hot knife through butter. I was happy with my work until I flipped the fillet over and it was as described. Looked like a dogs dinner despite good knife work and no meat left on the frame. Smelt pretty bad too. Can't ever remember a snapper smelling bad! Iki, gutted and iced immediately after catching before anyone asks!

I had planned to make kokonda. Had the ingredients for it and not much else, so went ahead with the worst piece of fish ever. Believe it or not, actually tasted good!


Posted By: Pcj
Date Posted: 28 Mar 2023 at 11:19pm
I believe its too much fresh water where the fish have been hanging around. We got some mullet from a inlet and were mush compared to ocean swimmers.




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"Times up"


Posted By: Sanchez
Date Posted: 29 Mar 2023 at 9:50am
I'm getting at least one white flesh model every trip out. I'm trying to keep an eye on weight and throw the light ones back. Its in the news feed finally. I shudder to think how many fish the coms have binned. Recs too. 

https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/new-zealand/2023/03/increasing-number-of-snapper-caught-in-hauraki-gulf-suffering-from-starvation.html" rel="nofollow - https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/new-zealand/2023/03/increasing-number-of-snapper-caught-in-hauraki-gulf-suffering-from-starvation.html


Posted By: Pcj
Date Posted: 29 Mar 2023 at 1:04pm
Originally posted by Sanchez Sanchez wrote:

I'm getting at least one white flesh model every trip out. I'm trying to keep an eye on weight and throw the light ones back. Its in the news feed finally. I shudder to think how many fish the coms have binned. Recs too. 

https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/new-zealand/2023/03/increasing-number-of-snapper-caught-in-hauraki-gulf-suffering-from-starvation.html" rel="nofollow - https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/new-zealand/2023/03/increasing-number-of-snapper-caught-in-hauraki-gulf-suffering-from-starvation.html
Have bring trawlers in to the discussion didnt they. Remember 2015?Sanfords said they will leave the gulf if we recorded our catches,but LEGASEA said no way will reccs report catches,Shot them selves in the foot Id say!

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"Times up"


Posted By: Sanchez
Date Posted: 29 Mar 2023 at 3:13pm
I think the discussion seemed pretty ballanced PJC. They mentioned alot of factors that could be contributing. Trawling the seabed was just one of them.  Not sure what happened in 2015. Last time i checked Legasea doesnt speak for all recs and couldn't block such a move. I do think recs reporting catches isnt straightforward whatever Legasea have to say about it. I'm not against such a thing just saying its going to be tough to enforce right ? can you send me a link of whatever happened in 2015 so i can get on your page ? 


Posted By: Pcj
Date Posted: 29 Mar 2023 at 4:46pm
Originally posted by Sanchez Sanchez wrote:

I think the discussion seemed pretty ballanced PJC. They mentioned alot of factors that could be contributing. Trawling the seabed was just one of them.  Not sure what happened in 2015. Last time i checked Legasea doesnt speak for all recs and couldn't block such a move. I do think recs reporting catches isnt straightforward whatever Legasea have to say about it. I'm not against such a thing just saying its going to be tough to enforce right ? can you send me a link of whatever happened in 2015 so i can get on your page ? 
https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/industries/73461972/sanford-lays-down-challenge-to-hauraki-gulf-recreational-fishmen%20" rel="nofollow - https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/industries/73461972/sanford-lays-down-challenge-to-hauraki-gulf-recreational-fishmen



Legasea response

https://legasea.co.nz/2017/04/05/feasibility-of-reporting-recreational-catch/" rel="nofollow - https://legasea.co.nz/2017/04/05/feasibility-of-reporting-recreational-catch/



And yes you are correct.They do not speak for all. NO consultation but blindly go ahead as they think they are right and everyone else is wrong.


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"Times up"


Posted By: Schampy
Date Posted: 29 Mar 2023 at 9:07pm
Yep the theory's thrown around all seem plausible. We didn't seem to land any milky ones on several fishing trips up north this summer. Yet
my brother who lives out on the Barrier has caught dozens of them....so does that mean its just a Gulf issue? Are they being caught down BOP way? I tend to agree with V8. There are billions of Kina infesting pretty much all rocky areas around inner gulf.... yet the fish are starving? Doesn't stack up
Warm water temperatures , Run-off, silt and fresh water will certainly affect the food chain.... Krill etc. 
I see mike Mora from 3 news is investigating it....Apparently he's keen fisho, So at least the whole phenomenon is being made public and awareness is being raised which is a good thing.





Posted By: Sanchez
Date Posted: 29 Mar 2023 at 9:14pm
I think only large snapper can bust up a kina. Not 100% sure but I freedive and never seen the smaller models do it.  Less baitfish around thats for sure. 


Posted By: shaneg
Date Posted: 29 Mar 2023 at 10:14pm
Heard not enough baitfish,  as in pillies, Mack’s are also getting hammered commercially.
Very little workups of late in gulf now compared to years ago. Last year we had anchovies from about now on . But haven’t seen any yet. They (snapper) need feed to stay in good nick. Should ban netting pillies., although basically heard fished em out up here last year. My advice is don’t buy them. Also lack of decent kahawai round gulf at moment .. yet another bad sign. Some have said lack pillies is due to warmer water but doubt that… they would just be present further out if the case… which they are not.


Posted By: Tonto2
Date Posted: 29 Mar 2023 at 11:35pm
It's obvious really.... They are white cis males.

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slowly going where everyone else has already been


Posted By: Fish Addict
Date Posted: 30 Mar 2023 at 12:17am
Originally posted by Tonto2 Tonto2 wrote:

It's obvious really.... They are white cis males.

I'll pay that, very good Martyn.  LOL


Posted By: Kandrew
Date Posted: 30 Mar 2023 at 6:58am
Originally posted by Tonto2 Tonto2 wrote:

It's obvious really.... They are white cis males.
Have you just been hit by a motorcycle


Posted By: slayliner
Date Posted: 30 Mar 2023 at 8:23am
Maybe the skinny snapper are vegan


Posted By: Telecaster
Date Posted: 30 Mar 2023 at 8:45am
We had a really weird spring with a lot of rain, and NE winds pushing warm water into the gulf. I am wondering if they spawned early, and then spawned again in Jan? I have always had the odd mushy white-fleshed snapper around Nov-Jan but have definitely noticed more then usual this summer. I filleted 5 snapper on Monday (caught on Sunday) ranging from 40cm to 70cm and they were all in great condition - caught not far from Whangaparaoa.


Posted By: Tonto2
Date Posted: 30 Mar 2023 at 11:13am
Originally posted by Kandrew Kandrew wrote:

Originally posted by Tonto2 Tonto2 wrote:

It's obvious really.... They are white cis males.
Have you just been hit by a motorcycle
not recently 😂

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slowly going where everyone else has already been


Posted By: Kandrew
Date Posted: 30 Mar 2023 at 6:25pm
Originally posted by Telecaster Telecaster wrote:

We had a really weird spring with a lot of rain, and NE winds pushing warm water into the gulf. I am wondering if they spawned early, and then spawned again in Jan? I have always had the odd mushy white-fleshed snapper around Nov-Jan but have definitely noticed more then usual this summer. I filleted 5 snapper on Monday (caught on Sunday) ranging from 40cm to 70cm and they were all in great condition - caught not far from Whangaparaoa.
to me it feels like we are still in spring, gardens and lawns are still going mental.


Posted By: Big -Dave
Date Posted: 04 Apr 2023 at 8:42am
Happy to report, 15 snapper over the weekend, fantail bay area. Only one had slightly milky flesh.

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you can't fix an idiot with duct tape, but it does muffle them for a while...


Posted By: brmbrm
Date Posted: 06 Apr 2023 at 8:37pm
Shortish trip Thursday morning from Takapuna: kept 3, all looking in very good condition.  Returned two that looked maybe a bit on the skinny side?  Dont really know.  All about 35cm.  Plus a fair few small things.  All 3 kept fish very nice looking flesh and tasted great, both raw and ceviche, a bit left over for tomorrow.

No slushy, white flesh in sight. 



Posted By: letsgetem
Date Posted: 07 Apr 2023 at 11:38am
2 weeks ago, near Tiritiri Matangi, 5 keepers, only one with milky flesh.
Yesterday, near Whangaparaoa. 3 keepers, small around 32cm. All firm flesh.

So - assume that the poor condition syndrome, is possibly over??

To review - my experience, off WHangaparaoa - from early winter  July 2022 to Feb 2023; caught most with milky flesh. March, reducing number with milky flesh. April, none milky flesh. 


Posted By: Pcj
Date Posted: 08 Apr 2023 at 4:57pm
Just finished filleting 13 snapper from man o war bay,all firm no mush and all have mussels in guts

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"Times up"


Posted By: v8-coupe
Date Posted: 08 Apr 2023 at 6:20pm
Another thought, and yet again posibly naive after Pcj's post. Could the fact the weather and therefore the water has been so warm for so long that the fish are nooking themselves silly over and over while not feeding properly.
Now there has been a definite drop in temperature and presumably water, they are now feeding properly and not prowling the red light districts anymore.


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Legasea Legend Member


Posted By: kaveman
Date Posted: 09 Apr 2023 at 12:52pm
Exactly my thoughts as well V8-Coupe. we have never had 3 years in a row of this easterly weather pattern. Water has been constantly very warm.  Back to normal westerly now for the next 7 years i hope



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www.kavemantackle.co.nz


Posted By: Kandrew
Date Posted: 09 Apr 2023 at 4:47pm
I think your right Kevin out on the firth this afternoon for an hour 5 snapper all in good condition and no white fillets


Posted By: Schampy
Date Posted: 10 Apr 2023 at 8:32pm
Landed some cracking snapper out at GB this wkd... All in fantastic condition nice and fat.
Good to see.


Posted By: 12FooterSlaya
Date Posted: 29 Apr 2023 at 1:37am
Never seen a milky fish off my local. its close by a marine reserve that's probably why theres heaps of mussels, kinas and scollies.


Posted By: letsgetem
Date Posted: 29 Apr 2023 at 8:54am
THey are still here - caught 5 snapper off Whangaparaoa, 4 were thin with milky flesh.


Posted By: brmbrm
Date Posted: 30 Apr 2023 at 8:00pm
All OK up Tutukaka way.

Don't understand why this syndrome/condiion/disease is not understood, given the importance of the snapper fishery.  Has it ever been seen before?


Posted By: smudge
Date Posted: 30 Apr 2023 at 11:27pm
I've seen it in poor conditioned fish over the years but not in the numbers that have been reported.It's something I've seen on fish after spawning when the fish are very thin. I've only really seen it on kahawai, gurnard and snapper.

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Best gurnard fisherman in my street


Posted By: letsgetem
Date Posted: 02 May 2023 at 10:23am
Ive read in the Herald, from a survey of commercial fishers  ..."80% of respondents reported having to change where they fish or their fishing methods within the past 2 years, due to the presence of silt, forestry slash and debris...."
I wondered if silt on the bottom might be the cause of the markedly worse condition of snapper in the inner Hauraki Gulf.

But on reflection - a bloke said the snapper in Kaipara Harbour are not showing the same poor condition; and I think silt would be as bad or probably worse there, so I dont think thats thwe cause.


Posted By: brmbrm
Date Posted: 14 Aug 2023 at 7:47am
Anyone been having this issue lately?  Caught a small snapper off Tutukaka yesterday which seemed milky and soggy flesh...



Posted By: corosanta
Date Posted: 14 Aug 2023 at 9:48am
Still a problem up here, but somewhat patchy.



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Sitndrinkntalknbullman


Posted By: v8-coupe
Date Posted: 14 Aug 2023 at 5:16pm
Went out a couple of weeks ago, caught our limit of reasonable fish. No measure needed and no milky flesh whatsoever.
Inner Gulf.


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Legasea Legend Member


Posted By: Reel Deal
Date Posted: 15 Aug 2023 at 8:17am
Still getting Millie’s Whangarei and they were my two biggest snaps too which made me feel guilty. Since it’s winter and snapper won’t be spawning in winter and we still get Milkies it won’t be that. And the food source is the same it’s always been around here if not better starving is doubtful I’m think a suggestion on here is the high amount of fresh water might be worth looking into. I haven’t caught Milkies hardly over 50 years of fishing till the last two and the weather up north has been rain everyday so hmmm. 
Something I’ll try next weekend which was told to me via a local on FB on Whangarei is leave the fillets overnight in glad wrap and the fillets come right and lose their Milkieness the next day so I’m keen to try this. I can identify milkies easier now as sunken behind head and thin etc. they are stressed for sure. Sur-raised the fisheries haven’t got to the bottom of it yet and gov shared the info. Fisheries management are a mystery to me 


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The gods do not subtract from the allotted span of men's lives the hours spent on fishing - Assyrian Proverb


Posted By: brmbrm
Date Posted: 15 Aug 2023 at 5:40pm
Originally posted by Reel Deal Reel Deal wrote:

Something I’ll try next weekend which was told to me via a local on FB on Whangarei is leave the fillets overnight in glad wrap and the fillets come right and lose their Milkieness the next day so I’m keen to try this. 

Interesting - let us know how that goes and what it tastes like (the neighbour's cats loved the one I had).


Posted By: Kandrew
Date Posted: 15 Aug 2023 at 7:35pm
Went out from Stanmore Bay couple of weeks ago the largest fish I caught just wasn’t right and had a very mushy texture, definitely had better.


Posted By: Pcj
Date Posted: 15 Aug 2023 at 11:07pm
None reported from Kaipara or Manukau with this problem that I know of. Simply dont believe starvation.

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"Times up"


Posted By: Grunta
Date Posted: 16 Aug 2023 at 10:25am
Good evidence from the research that's been done to date that the milky condition is a result of malnutrition. That's quite consistent with the physical appearance as those fish are skinny. It seems to be confined to the northern East Coast but as to the cause, that's unclear. Will see if we can get some detailed info so stay tuned.

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Online...


Posted By: Reel Deal
Date Posted: 16 Aug 2023 at 7:39pm
It maybe malnutrition but that maybe a symptom of virus, fresh water stress, new type of Alge bloom etc etc etc. if fish are dieing of starvation with such a low biomass we can never increase biomass. Heard Kawahai now starting to show up and they eat other foods as well as trevs. Wonder how crayfish are fairing ? 

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The gods do not subtract from the allotted span of men's lives the hours spent on fishing - Assyrian Proverb


Posted By: smudge
Date Posted: 16 Aug 2023 at 9:23pm
Here we go, a bit of a novel:

I've encountered my share of fish with this milky/mushy flesh. One thing I know is that the worst ones are easy to spot when caught. They are skinny. Without any actual data what I have noticed over my years of fishing out west is that by far the most common fish in this condition are kahawai and gurnard. I have caught literally thousands of kahawai from the Manukau harbour and Auckland's west coast. For around 25 years I've actively fished for them shore based. For 15 years or so I'd fish exclusively for kahawai at night over winter. Sometimes 3 to 5 times a week. I used bait, swf, flies, livies, jigs, home made lures, bare hooks, novelty  rigs such as beer can tabs etc etc.

 My point is that in all that time with a conservative estimate of 1000 kahawai from two land based locations over winter, I don't think I ever caught a skinny or milky fleshed kahawai. I would only keep no more than maybe 10% of those I caught but they were all fat little (mostly 1.5 to 3kg) chubby fullas.

On the boat however I would catch them all year round, sometimes in huge numbers. Over summer through to late autumn skinny kahawai were not really uncommon, especially from the harbour but the longest kahawai I ever caught was 72cm long and it weighed 3.1kg. It was in 8m off of Hamilton's Gap on the west coast and it made a baracoutta look muscle bound. I weighed it for a comp and won that category but it was only good for gurnard bait. To be fair it put up a good tussle considering its poor condition. To put that in perspective my heaviest kahawai was landbased in winter and weighed 3.6kg. It was around 63cm from memory. Having said that we got a very skinny kahawai out of the harbour two weeks ago.

Don't get me started on gurnard. OK I'll tell you anyway. The longest gurnard I've caught was 52cm long. It was from the Manukau harbour in February and weighed something like 1.1kg. That fish would go 1.6kg plus depending on condition. That like many others caught over summer in the harbour was skinny and inedible. These days I don't keep any skinny fish of any species, even for bait.

So west coast snapper Smudge? Ohhh yeah: Over spring and summer we get lots of snapper. None have looked skinny from off the coast but about 10% of those fish will have whiter looking flesh than the others which have that lovely translucent 'colour'. The whitish ones aren't bad enough to be mushy and they taste fine.

We iki all our fish, we take two 90 litre bins, one full of ice and the other for the fish. The ice goes in the fish bin straight away.

What all that means I have no idea! Big smile






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Best gurnard fisherman in my street


Posted By: smudge
Date Posted: 16 Aug 2023 at 9:25pm
To me it is clear nutrition plays a part. I am 100% certain that post spawn many fish of all species are in less than perfect nick

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Best gurnard fisherman in my street


Posted By: kimber7wsm
Date Posted: 17 Aug 2023 at 5:53am
I agree Smudge. The leading cause of skinny in any species is under feeding. Then possibly "P" but I don't think fish are dumb enough to take that s**t.


Posted By: Dagwood
Date Posted: 17 Aug 2023 at 8:06am
Of 3 snapper caught just north of Whitianga 2 weeks ago, 1 had the milky flesh issue.

Never encountered it before (but haven't been out much recently) so only discovered on the filleting bench.  


Posted By: Kandrew
Date Posted: 17 Aug 2023 at 10:25am
Might be time to target other fish and fish the west coast more.


Posted By: Reel Deal
Date Posted: 17 Aug 2023 at 7:39pm
Nah poroae and mullet are vegan 

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The gods do not subtract from the allotted span of men's lives the hours spent on fishing - Assyrian Proverb


Posted By: smudge
Date Posted: 17 Aug 2023 at 9:54pm
Originally posted by Reel Deal Reel Deal wrote:

Nah poroae and mullet are vegan 

I've never found a cabbage in the gut of a porae or mullet


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Best gurnard fisherman in my street


Posted By: smudge
Date Posted: 17 Aug 2023 at 9:55pm
Not even kale

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Best gurnard fisherman in my street


Posted By: Dagwood
Date Posted: 18 Aug 2023 at 8:03am
Has anyone heard how the commercial sector are dealing with this? Would be hard to tell which fish are affected until they're being processed. Therefore does the fisherman receive full payment and the fish come off their quota and the loss is picked up by the processor or is there a claw back system of some sort?


Posted By: Reel Deal
Date Posted: 18 Aug 2023 at 8:47am
Used to catch them on iceberg lettuce as kids Smudge. Without vegan dressing, but thinking about it that could have been the secret sauce🤔

Dagwood good question I wonder this too. Are they just dumped? Prob do as Comms just do the easiest not what’s best for the fisheries. Wonder if they care enough to look into checking condition before keeping. We will never know without cameras 


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The gods do not subtract from the allotted span of men's lives the hours spent on fishing - Assyrian Proverb


Posted By: Pcj
Date Posted: 18 Aug 2023 at 9:43am
Won't have to worry soon.price of fuel and chippy and his 12.5c increase


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"Times up"


Posted By: Mc Tool
Date Posted: 18 Aug 2023 at 2:56pm
Originally posted by kimber7wsm kimber7wsm wrote:

I agree Smudge. The leading cause of skinny in any species is under feeding. Then possibly "P" but I don't think fish are dumb enough to take that s**t.
well I hear the cops test the sewage for P so maybe the fish dont get a choiceTongue , I mean every time it rains , somewhere gets "overloaded " and spews untreated sewage into the ocean .LOLLOL


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I wish I was young again .... Id be heaps smarter than this time


Posted By: Kandrew
Date Posted: 18 Aug 2023 at 5:50pm
After that big rain dump in February the whole gulf was full of sewage and slit that would have killed off a lot of food supply for the fish have the fish recovered


Posted By: Pcj
Date Posted: 18 Aug 2023 at 6:45pm
Originally posted by Dagwood Dagwood wrote:

Has anyone heard how the commercial sector are dealing with this? Would be hard to tell which fish are affected until they're being processed. Therefore does the fisherman receive full payment and the fish come off their quota and the loss is picked up by the processor or is there a claw back system of some sort?
From A commercial trawlerman I just started communicating with.

I talk with NIWA Scientists up there occasionally; back in March they told me that for instance, 1 commercial boat had 20% of 1 landing got sent to the fishmeal plant as it was washed out sloppy white flesh; I asked him, he verified. There's actually plenty of fish, but Snapper just don't bite every day ,even if they are swimming around your lines;


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"Times up"


Posted By: muchalls
Date Posted: 21 Aug 2023 at 8:01pm
Originally posted by kimber7wsm kimber7wsm wrote:

I agree Smudge. The leading cause of skinny in any species is under feeding. Then possibly "P" but I don't think fish are dumb enough to take that s**t.

They tried but couldn’t get a lighter to fire up under water….


Posted By: brmbrm
Date Posted: 26 Aug 2023 at 6:13pm
Brought home 6 pannies on Thursday.  5 fine, 1 "a bit" milky and flesh fairly firm - half way in between OK and malnourished?They are going in the smoker tomorrow and will do a "blind" taste test on the missus.....

PS  Neighbours cats love the scraps, milky flesh or not



Posted By: Mc Tool
Date Posted: 26 Aug 2023 at 7:13pm
Originally posted by brmbrm brmbrm wrote:

  will do a "blind" taste test on the missus...

 
 and then try the fish ?LOL



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I wish I was young again .... Id be heaps smarter than this time


Posted By: Demo_Fish
Date Posted: 28 Aug 2023 at 7:50pm
Hey guys, just wondering a few things. Are most of your Milkys smaller fish or fish 40cm plus? Are they generally from deeper water or shallow? And by what means have they been caught? Ie bait, kabura, softbait, jig.


Posted By: Reel Deal
Date Posted: 29 Aug 2023 at 6:14am
All sizes for me from 32cm to 11 pounds. Also all depths I fish under 50m. Mine caught mostly on bait. Fight well can’t tell till you lift them up and see skinny with sunken bit behind eyes. 

I also wonder is it something like a fish virus and -asses in a couple of weeks? Or kills the fish ?
Also I’m told and yet to test that if u -it in fridge for 24 hours the fillets come right? Sounds weird but I never rule anything out till I try it so will do if a milky gets past my vetting process boat side 


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The gods do not subtract from the allotted span of men's lives the hours spent on fishing - Assyrian Proverb


Posted By: MB
Date Posted: 29 Aug 2023 at 7:32am
The one properly milky fish I've eaten tasted OK. I'm a bit concerned that there is going to be a lot more catch and release of snapper caught in deeper water because of this problem. It's a tough call.


Posted By: krow
Date Posted: 29 Aug 2023 at 7:46pm
Cooked up both to test. Milky is pet food.
Wife and myself won't be trying it again. 
I very much doubt this yak about starvation but apart from this being the wettest year I can remember I have no clue to the reason so many are turning up. 


Posted By: Mc Tool
Date Posted: 29 Aug 2023 at 8:07pm
Could it be that some fish have found something else to eat, I mean we hear of new invasive species arriving in NZ , or just the fact that water seems to be getting warmer ( traditional warm water fish are moving south ).
Could they have started eating something that doesn't agree with them ?

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I wish I was young again .... Id be heaps smarter than this time


Posted By: Reel Deal
Date Posted: 29 Aug 2023 at 8:50pm

"Could it be that some fish have found something else to eat, I mean we hear of new invasive species arriving in NZ , or just the fact that water seems to be getting warmer ( traditional warm water fish are moving south ).
Could they have started eating something that doesn't agree with them ?"

Agree McTool we have no idea and there are so many variables. Very much doubt lack of food is the issue. There would be schools of starving fish but I’m getting fatties then a milky amongst them. We need real scientists not commercial puppets to investigate 




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The gods do not subtract from the allotted span of men's lives the hours spent on fishing - Assyrian Proverb


Posted By: letsgetem
Date Posted: 30 Aug 2023 at 10:52am
Last 3 trips, off Whangaparaoa - earlier, in August, 3 and 2 snapper all small, all milky, discarded all. I thought I had released all fish that were thin, but kept 5 that turned out to be milky.
Last, yesterday, 4 keepers 32-35, 1 milky discarded - 3 ok kept although still slightly milky.

So - perhaps getting better? but doubtful as far too  small a number to be statistically significant.

A bloke thought could be a lot more snapper, with insufficient food. I dont think so.

I suspect most likely due to climate change, sea here warming up, affecting some things adversely - possibly the snapper directly, but more likely some other things that snapper rely on for food? 


Posted By: Grunta
Date Posted: 30 Aug 2023 at 3:45pm
Out off Omaha and just clear of the inside cable-zone marker a few days ago. Four of us kept a dozen snaps (nothing to write home about - late 30's to mid 40's) -> 2 milky-ish and didn't look skinny but rest in good nick.

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Online...


Posted By: brmbrm
Date Posted: 30 Aug 2023 at 5:36pm
Originally posted by Mc Tool Mc Tool wrote:

Originally posted by brmbrm brmbrm wrote:

  will do a "blind" taste test on the missus...

 
 and then try the fish ?LOL


Thanks for the suggestion.  pretty good.  Bit fishy maybe



Posted By: brmbrm
Date Posted: 30 Aug 2023 at 5:39pm
Originally posted by brmbrm brmbrm wrote:

Brought home 6 pannies on Thursday.  5 fine, 1 "a bit" milky and flesh fairly firm - half way in between OK and malnourished?They are going in the smoker tomorrow and will do a "blind" taste test on the missus.....

PS  Neighbours cats love the scraps, milky flesh or not


After spreading with cure and a day in the fridge the "milky-ish" one was less milky, seemed clear in places?  Smoked all 6.  The "milky-ish" one was less firm flesh but didnt taste different to the rest.

Don't think I would eat if really milky-looking, but maybe there are degrees of milkiness?  Really dont know why, given how important the snapper fishery is to NZ, the reasons for this are not well understood.  Never happened before?



Posted By: Pcj
Date Posted: 30 Aug 2023 at 5:47pm
imo 2 things lost of fresh at sea floor inshore  and possible water temp to warm hence why the are finding snapper further south in numbers than before

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"Times up"


Posted By: Demo_Fish
Date Posted: 30 Aug 2023 at 6:44pm
I have a theory which is likely to be unpopular with some. (Theory isn’t mine but from a friend who has worked with aquaculture for some time).

The idea is that it could likely be from barotrauma aftermath. Ie the fish is healthy enough to live but is struggling to swim due to a blown swim bladder. This would intern deplete the fat and muscle mass of the fish for sometime till it can recover. I believe these fish are still healthy enough to feed but have to put far more effort into doing so hence the reduced flesh quality.

This also aligns with with 99% of what I have observed. Being that it’s generally in smaller fish (likely released size), from deeper water, and the numbers of Milkys are higher in areas where more people fish.

The problem I am having after scrolling through numerous scientific papers, is that all the barotrauma research only seems to look at the immediate affects, mortality and the gut cavity.

This along with the fact that the swim bladder will likely have healed before the fish has regained muscle mass makes it very hard to prove.

I realise this may get some hate, but welcome your feed back and observations.


Posted By: nodnod
Date Posted: 30 Aug 2023 at 7:24pm
Connected?

https://www.stuff.co.nz/southland-times/news/132841793/terrible-bluff-oyster-season-blamed-on-lack-of-feed-in-ocean" rel="nofollow - https://www.stuff.co.nz/southland-times/news/132841793/terrible-bluff-oyster-season-blamed-on-lack-of-feed-in-ocean


Posted By: smudge
Date Posted: 30 Aug 2023 at 7:26pm
Originally posted by demo demo wrote:

I have a theory which is likely to be unpopular with some. (Theory isn’t mine but from a friend who has worked with aquaculture for some time).

The idea is that it could likely be from barotrauma aftermath. Ie the fish is healthy enough to live but is struggling to swim due to a blown swim bladder. This would intern deplete the fat and muscle mass of the fish for sometime till it can recover. I believe these fish are still healthy enough to feed but have to put far more effort into doing so hence the reduced flesh quality.

This also aligns with with 99% of what I have observed. Being that it’s generally in smaller fish (likely released size), from deeper water, and the numbers of Milkys are higher in areas where more people fish.

The problem I am having after scrolling through numerous scientific papers, is that all the barotrauma research only seems to look at the immediate affects, mortality and the gut cavity.

This along with the fact that the swim bladder will likely have healed before the fish has regained muscle mass makes it very hard to prove.

I realise this may get some hate, but welcome your feed back and observations.

Another theory, that is all good by me. The questions I have is why is it so prevalent now? Especially in the Hauraki Gulf? People have been winching snapper from the depths for many years. These days at least those of us that fish light gear give snapper a better chance of survival. It takes me 2 or 3 times as long to raise a fish from 60m out west than it takes those using TLD15's with 15kg mono.

We see the odd fish with less than translucent flesh on this side than what Auckland's east coast sees.

On the Manukau it is very common to get milky flesh gurnard and kahawai mid summer onward in the harbour. It is reasonably common to get kahawai like that over the coast. I don't recall EVER catching a gurnard from the Tasman sea in poor condition at any time of the year apart from the odd pimply one. The coastal areas are less affected than a shallow harbour on very hot days.

That leads me to believe it is temperature related. Then again, we get very few poor condition snapper in the Manukau harbour. In the height of summer we see water temps of 27 degrees and most of our fishing is in that high temp shallow water.

So what does all that mean? 

I have no idea!




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Best gurnard fisherman in my street


Posted By: Demo_Fish
Date Posted: 30 Aug 2023 at 8:46pm
It is an interesting one! My thoughts are that with lighter line more fish are surviving and not lying dead on the bottom once they get down.
Also what I am suggesting is not 100% down to barotrauma. As others have said they have observed this during spawning which could also be due to fish not feeding and loosing the same fat and muscle mass.

As for gurnard I have no real answer. Possibly stress and not eating due to snapper pushing them out? ( would like your thoughts on this)

As for why more now 🤷‍♂️ social media? The size limit going up? I am not sure but it seems like the most obvious answer to me so far!


Posted By: kimber7wsm
Date Posted: 31 Aug 2023 at 7:01am
I don't hold with the catch and release theory. The last trip I did out of Waikawa, 70% of the fish were milky white. That's a really return high catch ratio. I've had other trips around 50% white flesh ratio. 


Posted By: Kandrew
Date Posted: 31 Aug 2023 at 10:26am
Looks like the oyster season has the same problem with the quality down, they are blaming it not enough food for the oysters in the sea.

https://www.nzherald.co.nz/the-country/news/oyster-season-worst-i-have-seen-in-26-years/YLRD45YMEWYI3PCIFUFV5QD5JM/" rel="nofollow - https://www.nzherald.co.nz/the-country/news/oyster-season-worst-i-have-seen-in-26-years/YLRD45YMEWYI3PCIFUFV5QD5JM/


Posted By: Kandrew
Date Posted: 02 Sep 2023 at 6:18pm
Just wondering in the last couple of years the gulf has been full of small snapper’s some days I’ve been out I’ve thrown back heaps so no wonder there’s not enough food to go around.


Posted By: Pcj
Date Posted: 16 Sep 2023 at 4:24pm
2 gurnard from kaiaua.1 milky hard to fillet 2 Nd no issues

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"Times up"


Posted By: Lowbox
Date Posted: 16 Sep 2023 at 4:39pm
Think this might be pressure on the entire food chain - from things getting a bit warmer
- Terrible Bluff Oyster season blamed on lack of plankton
- Penguins starving at Oamaru
- Fiordland corals bleaching with high water temperatures
- Milky white snapper apparently starving
- Kingfish being caught out of Bluff
- Record sea temperatures with Fiordland recording Northland temps.



Posted By: Pcj
Date Posted: 16 Sep 2023 at 5:00pm
Funny how the snapper from same place translucent.Just done one

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"Times up"


Posted By: lawabidingpoacher
Date Posted: 16 Sep 2023 at 5:42pm
A mate of mine using a torpedo off Bayleys beach on west coast Northland caught 4 good snaps between 10 & 19 lb . Three were in mint condition & one was milky , but not inedable. I have caught the milky gurnard in Whangarei area in the past


Posted By: Reel Deal
Date Posted: 16 Sep 2023 at 7:20pm
Amongst my catch today were 5 snapper  - which I wasn’t targeting but came up as bycatch. 2 good 2 mildly milky and one rubbish milky. I don’t believe they are starving as bio mass so small these days and food everywhere. Hate to think we have to catch and kill the small population historically compared to feed even a smaller bio mass. I’m behind environment or viral, being skinny and white fleshed is a symptom.

My bear bug is with all these so called scientists in the "Best managed fishery in the world” hahahaha the paid for scientists for hire can’t find what the issue is. Embarrassing 


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The gods do not subtract from the allotted span of men's lives the hours spent on fishing - Assyrian Proverb



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