Effect of Human Behaviour
There are many issues threatening fisheries in New Zealand and around the world. These include issues such as:
Sometimes it may seem that these issues are too big for us to deal with, but the behaviour of everyone in the world adds up to make a difference.
People have been fishing since prehistoric times. However, in the last few decades, over-fishing has become a serious problem. Over-fishing occurs when too many fish are taken from a fishery, putting it at risk of collapsing.
Over-fishing has been caused partly by the increasing size of the world's population, which has increased the demand for fish and marine products.
As well as this, there are people who catch more fish than they are allowed to, leaving fewer fish for everyone else.
There have also been big advances in fish-catching technology, making it easier to catch fish, and in processing, storage, and transportation systems. For example, nowadays, a fish can be caught in the morning, packed in ice, and sent by plane to arrive fresh or even live in an overseas market the same evening.
When commercial fishers are fishing for a particular species, they may also catch other fish species and sometimes seabirds and marine mammals. This is known as by-catch.
The fishing industry and the government have taken steps to minimise by-catch. For example, many tuna vessels now use bird-scaring devices, and boats in the southern squid fishery, around the Auckland Islands, use sea lion exclusion devices (SLEDs), which help sea lions escape from their trawl nets.
Some areas of the New Zealand coast are closed to set netting to protect dolphins from both recreational and commercial fishers. Some of these closures are year round, while others are only during certain times of the year or at certain times of the day.
Dealing with waste is a worldwide problem. Many cities and large industries discharge sewage and waste products into the sea, and some waste products are toxic.
Each of us individually could be contributing to the pollution. For example, if you tip house paint down the drain, where will it end up, and what damage will it do? If a person pours leftover pesticide into a stream, what are the likely consequences?
Plastic and fishing net rubbish dumped at sea or on the beach is also a menace to fish, marine mammals, and birds.
What can you do to help?
Stick to the rules
Every time someone breaks the rules by catching more fish than they are allowed or fish that are too small, it impacts on that fishery’s future.
Before you go fishing, make sure that you have read the rules for the area you’re fishing in and know what the limits are. You can find the rules on this website, at under Recreational Fishing, or you can pick up a brochure from your local MFish office.
Put your rubbish in the bin
Not only does rubbish make our beaches look messy, if it washes out to sea, it can hurt or kill fish and other marine life. The fish can get tangled in rubbish or swallow it and choke, or it can damage their breeding or feeding grounds.
Report illegal fishing
If you see someone at the beach who you think might be breaking the rules, you should contact MFish. There is a special phone number that you can ring to report suspicious fishing activity: 0800 4 POACHER (0800 4 76224).
Fisheries are there for us all to enjoy, and it is up to us to do our bit, however small it may seem, so that future generations can enjoy the fisheries, too.