Fiordland blue cod closures extended
29 June 2009
Closures in Milford and Doubtful Sounds to amateur fishing for blue cod have been extended to allow fish stocks to rebuild the Ministry of Fisheries and Fiordland Marine Guardians announced today.
Both Milford and Doubtful Sounds have been closed to amateur blue cod fishing since 2005, following recommendations to the Minister of Fisheries from the Fiordland Marine Guardians.
All Fiordland’s inner sounds have been closed to commercial fishing since 2005 and Milford Sound has been closed to commercial fishing since 1994.
The Ministry of Fisheries has been monitoring blue cod stocks in Milford and Doubtful Sounds since the summer of 2005/06, to see how they were responding to the amateur fishing closures.
“We have been monitoring the blue cod population in the closed areas for around four years but we are not yet seeing a clear trend in blue cod numbers” said Inshore Fishery Manager Rose Grindley.
“The fisheries will continue to be monitored by the Ministry of Fisheries with a research project planned for the 2009 summer” she said.
“It has always been the intention of the Guardians to put a long-term management plan in place, based on the results of the monitoring programme. This is still the case but the reality is that we are dealing with a relatively slow growing fish so these things take time” said Fiordland Marine Guardians Chairman Malcolm Lawson.
The Fiordland Marine Guardians is a group of community representatives who advise central and local government agencies on how to manage the Fiordland marine environment. They were formed in 1995 (as the Guardians of Fiordland’s Fisheries Inc), in response to concerns about the escalating pressures on the Fiordland marine area. There were several reasons for those concerns − increasing human activity; the need for improved integrated management of the area; and a desire that the local community be more involved in the management of Fiordland’s marine environment.
“Next year the Guardians will be undertaking a review of the overall management plan of Fiordland’s marine environment. It will be five years since its inception and we will be asking the public and user groups for their views on the current provisions and for future management ideas. The long term plan for the blue cod fishery in Milford and Doubtful Sounds will be part of this review” said Mr Lawson.
It would be unwise to reopen these areas prior to receiving as much information as possible from the research programme and before undertaking the review” he said.
The Guardians were given formal recognition with the enactment of the Fiordland (Te Moana o Atawhenua) Marine Management Act 2005. Appointed by the Minister for the Environment, current guardians include commercial and recreational fishers, environmentalists, marine scientists, and community and tangata whenua (Ngai Tahu) representatives.