Campaign to save a Kiwi favourite

July 19, 2018

The east coast population of one of New Zealand’s favourite fish, tarakihi, has fallen by over 80% in the past 50 years and the stock is now overfished. LegaSea, the recreational fishing lobby group, is urging the Minister of Fisheries to drastically cut catches to rebuild the tarakihi population.

Tarakihi is one of New Zealand’s most loved fish and has been a mainstay of many a fishing trip for as long as people have been fishing in New Zealand waters. Yet the Quota Management System (QMS) has allowed destructive techniques like trawling and netting in fish nursery areas to decimate the population.

There is now solid scientific advice that the Minister must implement a rebuild plan that will restore abundance in a reasonable time, and spokesman Richard Baker says enough is enough.

We’ve seen the destruction of too many fisheries and the so-called world-class management system that’s led to over fishing of too many species. Just this year we’ve fought to protect the last of the crayfish in the Bay of Plenty region and now we’re calling on the Minister again. The tarakihi stocks between Northland and Otago are at such low levels that drastic action is required to rebuild stocks. Forty years of the Quota Management System has resulted in the steady decline of tarakihi along the whole east coast of New Zealand.

LegaSea is calling on the Minister to exercise his powers under the Fisheries Act to reduce the environmental impacts of trawling and to rebuild our tarakihi stock over the next ten years.

Anything less will see yet another iconic New Zealand fishery dwindle away to the point where they are just not available any longer to people fishing for their family’s dinner.

LegaSea calls for drastic cuts in commercial catch of tarakihi to rebuild stocks and has launched an online petition to support the fishery.

We want to restore abundance, we want to see intensive trawling banned from our inshore fisheries to reduce waste and protect fish stocks and the environment. The purpose of the Fisheries Act is to provide for the social, the cultural and economic benefit of all New Zealanders not just those that profit from catching the most.

Figure 1: The estimated spawning biomass in the east coast tarakihi population from 1931 to 2016. The spawning stock biomass is the total weight of all mature tarakihi off the east coast of the North and South Islands.

Fisheries New Zealand’s most recent stock assessment shows that the spawning stock biomass has been about 14,000 tonnes over the last 10 years and that the Total Allowable Catch of 4,900 tonnes (35%) per year is far too high to allow these stocks to rebuild. At current catch levels the tarakihi stocks will continue to decline.