South Island flatfish catch increased
10 July 2009
The Ministry of Fisheries has today announced an in-season increase of 350 tonnes in the Total Allowable Catch for the flatfish fishery in the east and south of the South Island (known as FLA3).
Fisheries Minister Hon Phil Heatley decided to make an in-season increase as there are larger than normal numbers of flatfish, especially lemon sole and New Zealand sole, available this year.
“Flatfish numbers naturally fluctuate and in some years there are large numbers of fish available to be caught” said Inshore Fishery Manager Rose Grindley.
“This is thought to be due to environmental factors like water temperature, the availability of food and the influence of ocean currents and weather patterns” she said.
To manage this natural variability a low annual Total Allowable Catch limit is in place and in years of high abundance the Minister of Fisheries can approve an in-season increase.
“The in-season increase means fishers can make the most of the high numbers of fish around at the moment while we make sure the fishery is sustainable for the future” Ms Grindley said.
The increase will only apply to commercial fishers as the best information available suggests that current allowances for customary Maori and recreational fishers are not being caught and will continue to meet the needs of those sectors.
The in-season increase is estimated to be worth approximately $1.8 million to the commercial fishing industry.
The increase in catch limits comes into effect today with additional catching rights (known as Annual Catch Entitlement) being allocated to owners of fishing quota in the FLA3 fishery.
Catch limits in the fishery will revert to previous levels at the end of the current fishing year on 30 September 2009.