Good news for recreational fishers
1 September 2009
New fishing rules that come into effect on 1 October bring good news for recreational fishers nationwide, says Minister of Fisheries Phil Heatley.
A better method for taking rock lobster and the opening up of the Taranaki paua fishery are among a number of upcoming changes to the recreational fishing experience.
“Whether you’re gathering lobster, paua or fishing for flatfish, changes to the regulations will improve the sustainability of our fisheries and ensure common-sense rules apply.”
“Sustainability is always paramount and rules that are practical keep that goal on-track.”
“We have acted on sound information and developed measures that are both good for the future of our fish stocks and where possible, allow recreational fishers wider access to areas that were otherwise restricted,” Mr Heatley said.
Hand-operated lassoes – lobster
Recreational fishers gathering rock lobster (crayfish) will be able to use hand-operated lassoes in all New Zealand waters. Also known as cray-loops, this method is likely to be less damaging than some currently permitted methods and will also improve recreational divers’ ability to safely catch rock lobster.
Spring-loaded lassoes will be banned however.
“Spring loaded lassoes can damage lobsters and reduce the chances of lobsters surviving upon release,” Mr Heatley said.
Current research suggests hand-operated lassoes cause fewer injuries to both soft and hard shell lobsters than hand gathering, which is an already permitted method.
“This is a common-sense and practical change that will help divers catch lobsters while minimising the risk of causing damage to lobsters in the catching process. It will also make the rules about lassoes much clearer and easier to enforce”
The New Zealand Recreational Fishing Council provided survey results on the impact of rock lobster hand-operated lassoes and along with the National Rock Lobster Management Group supported the change to regulations to allow the method to be introduced.
New size limit for Taranaki paua
A new minimum legal standard for the Taranaki region will mean recreational divers can now gather paua. The region’s stocks are naturally small and never reach the minimum legal standard of 125mm for paua across the remainder of the country.
The new size will be a trial basis for the next five years and will mean recreational fishers can gather paua at the new minimum legal size of 85mm in shell length from between Awakino and Wanganui rivers. This includes most paua beds within the Taranaki region.
A trial period is necessary as the measures have never been applied before in New Zealand’s paua fisheries.
A daily bag limit of 10 paua per fisher per day will apply.
“The current information we have indicates there is a sustainable paua fishery in Taranaki that won’t be threatened by recreational fishing.”
“It will also enable more Maori to catch paua for purposes other than just hui and tangi as presently provided for,” Mr Heatley said.
“At this stage, the fishery will not be opened to commercial fishers; however the option will be explored as part of an ongoing review of the compliance risks associated with paua fishing.”
Announcements of changes to paua accumulation limits for recreational fishers, Akaroa Harbour area bag limits, the minimum legal size of flat fish in the Challenger (Nelson area) fishery, and standardising amateur minimum legal net size in the Challenger area, will follow soon.
Map of the Taranaki paua fishery area.
Click on map to see larger image
Taranaki Paua fishery
A scientific study conducted by the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) on the Taranaki paua fishery has shown that Taranaki paua are naturally small.
This means they generally only reach a maximum size of about 90-100mm shell length rather than the national minimum legal standard of 125mm.
While stunted paua populations also occur in many other areas in the country, it is not well understood why they form in some areas and not in others.
However it is believed that it is a combination of genetic and environmental factors that cause some paua not to grow to a large size.
Small paua are abundant throughout the Taranaki region and can be harvested with relative ease (particularly during extremely low ‘king tides’ that occur every 1-2 months).
The Ministry of Fisheries plans to commission a further study on the Taranaki paua fishery in 4-5 years time to evaluate the impacts of recreational fishing.
Hand-held lassoes for catching rock lobster
Fisher ingenuity and gear technology developments often lead to fishers trying new harvesting methods that may be undefined and not explicitly regulated.
In 2005, the previous Minister of Fisheries reviewed recreational rock lobster fishing methods and made provisions for some new methods, but retained the restriction on lassoes until there was sufficient information about their potential impacts on rock lobsters.
The New Zealand Recreational Fishing Council submitted new information in 2008 on the impacts of lassoes on rock lobsters. Based on the results of their 2006 survey, it was concluded that the use of hand-operated lassoes causes significantly fewer injuries to both soft and hard-shell lobsters than hand gathering (a permitted method).
Hand-operated lassoes are a species-specific target method that is unlikely to affect or impact other marine life or the surrounding environment.
Daily bag limits of six lobsters per fisher per day are in place to control overall catch in the amateur sector.