Recreational fishers vote in favour of scallop dredging ban

September 23, 2020

Recreational groups have come out strongly in support of the need to ban fishing techniques that damage the seabed in coastal marine waters. Increasingly, science shows that damage to the seafloor caused by fishing is having an exponential impact on the overall health of our marine ecosystems.

At the Annual General Meeting of the New Zealand Sport Fishing Council and LegaSea, held recently in Paihia, delegates agreed to promote low impact scallop harvesting methods such as selective hand gathering by diving, where possible.

Council president Bob Gutsell is concerned about the long term damage caused by the dredging of scallop beds by commercial and recreational fishers.

“The New Zealand Sport Fishing Council considers that where possible scallops should be harvested manually, by diving. However, our members acknowledge that in areas of high current flows and low visibility it may be too dangerous for diving. In those areas people may decide that dredging is their only option,” said Mr Gutsell.

Burnsco led the way for retailers by withdrawing recreational scallop dredges from sale many years ago. Burnsco MD Bruce Macleod put it simply, “In good conscience we could not justify taking profit at such environmental cost”. Other responsible retailers such as Marine Deals have taken the same approach.

LegaSea spokesperson Sam Woolford is delighted with the commitment to reduce recreational fishers’ collective impact on the seabed.

“With so many factors affecting the health of our marine environment it’s great that the recreational fishing community are taking a proactive lead towards more selective means of collecting scallops,” said Mr Woolford.

The New Zealand Sport Fishing Council and LegaSea are promoting the Rescue Fish policy which seeks to ban bulk harvesting, bottom contact fishing methods such as dredging and trawling from inshore waters, to protect sensitive nursery areas and improve productivity.