How Do We Value Our Fisheries?
Many New Zealanders have strong connections with the sea – we spend time at the beach on a hot summer’s day and go fishing, surfing, paddling, sailing, and snorkelling. New Zealand is surrounded by the sea. The sea figures strongly in many Māori legends. It’s part of what makes us New Zealanders.
As well as this, our seas have commercial value. Our commercial fishing industry makes money from the fisheries in our oceans.
So our oceans hold different values for different reasons.
Many New Zealanders grow up not far from a beach. We go swimming in the sea, learn to catch fish, look for crabs under rocks, and eat fresh fish and chips! With such easy access to the sea, catching fish, eating fish and interacting with the country’s coastal environment has become part of our culture.
Māori have a special bond with the sea. They sailed and paddled their waka across vast oceans to get to New Zealand. They have many legends about the sea – Maui even pulled the North Island as a fish from the sea! For Māori, fisheries are a traditional source of economic and cultural well-being. Being able to provide kaimoana to feed whānau or manuhiri has always been part of the tikanga (cultural heritage) of tangata whenua.
New Zealand earns more than $1.3 billion each year by exporting fish and shellfish to other countries. When you buy fish or shellfish from the supermarket or grab some fish-and-chip takeaways, you are supporting our commercial fishing industry.
The commercial fishing industry employs more than just fishers. There are people who work in factories, gutting, filleting, and packing the fish; there are fish-and-chip shop owners; and there are people who work in offices, organising fish exports, marketing fish to encourage people to buy it, and managing accounts for fishing companies.
Food and fun value
People go fishing recreationally more than one million times a year in New Zealand. For many people, fishing allows them to put food on the table, and to have fun doing so!
Fishing is a chance to spend time outdoors, with family and friends or by yourself just practicing your fishing skills. It is a peaceful activity, but there’s plenty of excitement when you hook a big fish!
As well as that, the fish you catch are very good for you! How many times have you eaten fish like tarakihi, hoki, or snapper? Or shellfish, such as pipi, oysters, scallops, or paua. Have you ever eaten eel? Not only is it tasty, seafood is also an excellent source of protein and can have high levels of Omega 3 and other fatty acids, which help to build brain cells!
People around the world think of New Zealand as a clean, green country. We have clean air to breathe and lots of healthy plants and wildlife. To many people, it is very important that we keep our environment in good condition so that future generations can enjoy it, too.
Our oceans and fisheries are part of our environment, and there is a high value placed on making sure they stay healthy.
We have shown that we value the marine environments of New Zealand by protecting those environments as marine reserves, mātaitai, taiāpure, marine mammal sanctuaries and by setting up strict rules for fishing.