Paul Barnes obituary

January 20, 2021
Paul Barnes  1953 to 2020

Paul was a successful businessman who operated Paul’s Fishing Kites for 33 years, an inventor, a fisherman, and a conservationist.

Paul and Peggy Barnes were the backbone of The 4 Principles that underpinned everything option4 stood for put us all on solid ground and made us safe to do the right thing. His advocacy work for ‘more fish in the water’ continues with the LegaSea team’s effort to reform fisheries management and implement the alternative Rescue Fish policy. 

Paul was a great friend to many. It is a cliche to say ‘he would give you the shirt off his back’. In Paul’s case it would be a fish from his line, however Paul would rather teach you how to catch a fish so you could eat fish forever, as the old saying goes.

Paul started his career as a commercial fisherman and being a remarkable thinker he was concerned about snapper mortality when undersized fish were caught and released. He invented the Target hook with a wire guard to prevent small snapper from being hooked. This appendaged hook, if used by every longliner in NZ, could reduce snapper mortality by hundreds of tonnes annually. 

Long before drones and torpedo fishing systems Paul looked to the sky and perfected fishing kites, capable of taking a set of baited hooks on a line far out to sea. This was a revolution for land based fishers at the time.

Paul also became an accidental retailer. He opened the Paul’s Fishing Kites shop in Onehunga in 1987 to sell his kites and the tackle required to fish from the shore successfully. Over time fishing has diversified and the business now retails as Paul’s Fishing Systems, providing expert advice to thousands of people. 

Paul’s love was the sea. He was a visionary, able to see the threats to recreational fishing interests and for 40 years was an advocate for sensible management changes so all New Zealanders had access to an abundant fishery. One of his greatest assets was his ability to inspire Kiwis to care for the fishery so future generations could enjoy fishing. 

He will be missed, by his family, his many friends, by the people he inspired to have a go at fishing, and the people he inspired to love the sea as he did. And with his dedication to conservation in the Target hook, he is owed a debt by the rest of us who fish in New Zealand.