New rules require fishers to stay with set-nets
31 August 2007
Fisheries Minister Jim Anderton today congratulated local fishers in the East Otago Taiapure-Local Fishery for their initiative in improving the use of set-nets.
“Local fishers from the area, just north of Dunedin, could see that un-retrieved fishing nets were snaring seabirds and marine mammals. They took their concerns to the Ministry of Fisheries and this has led to a new regulation requiring fishers to stay with their nets. This kind of responsible partnership works for the benefit of everyone,” Jim Anderton said.
Known as ‘ghost-fish’ nets, inexperienced set netters are often unable to retrieve nets in the taiapure-local fishery due to changed weather conditions. The nets then get left for several days until the weather improves or they drift with strong tides.
Nets left for an extended period of time can also result in sea-lice and other damage, making the fish that are caught inedible. The Ministry of Fisheries plans to introduce the new rule later this year.
“Set-netting is a big issue across the country, but particularly where there are sea mammals,” Jim Anderton said. “Putting tighter restrictions in place is one solution but a lot also comes down to making people more aware of better fishing practices and what else is around them while they are fishing.”
The East Otago Taiapure–Local Fishery Management Committee, made up of iwi, recreational and commercial fishing representatives, has been observing netting practices in the area since 1996. Deputy Chair of the Committee, Allan Anderson, says it became clear that action needed to be taken.
“This fishing area is a hot spot for Hector’s dolphins and other marine mammals. Anything we can do to give more protection to these creatures is a step in the right direction.”
While most local fishers are united on the move to keep fishers with nets, some recreational fishers still want to leave nets in areas marked as ‘estuaries’.
“However, the long-term benefits of a blanket ruling across the whole area outweigh making any such exceptions,” Jim Anderton said.
A wider threat-management plan is being developed to address threats to Hector’s and Maui dolphin’s across the nation. The Ministry of Fisheries and the Department of Conservation are working with stakeholders to develop the plan, which is expected to be out by December this year. The draft plan is open for consultation.
Read the Hector's and Maui's Dolphin Draft Threat Manangement Plan