A higher target for more fish – B50

April 26, 2021

New Zealand’s so-called world leading quota management system is an abject failure. That is the inconvenient truth. After 35 years we still have fisheries that are not abundant enough to meet people’s needs. Rebuilding depleted fish stocks to levels that are both sustainable for the ocean and the economy would mean great things for our marine environment and all New Zealanders.

Image: Sam Wild

We must lift our expectations, or are we going to let all our fish stocks become ‘functionally extinct’ like crayfish in the Hauraki Gulf? Experts have estimated the crayfish population is so low that it can no longer help support the ecology of the Gulf.

If a valuable and well researched fish stock such as crayfish can sink so low what hope is there for our precious gurnard, mullet, flounder and bait fish stocks whose status is unknown?

New Zealand needs to act faster to rebuild fish stocks to higher abundance levels.

There is a positive way to make change to ensure more fish in the water. That change is called B50.

B50 means rebuilding a fish stock to a minimum biomass of 50 percent, so there is at least half the amount of fish there used to be in the water before industrial-scale fishing started.

It wasn’t that long ago that our grandparents could go fishing in the shallows and catch a hapukū, catch a crayfish in amongst the rocky shoreline, or collect scallops at a low spring tide. Fish populations were more abundant back then, so fishing was accessible for everyone.

LegaSea acknowledges that it is impossible for a fish population to completely recover to its original unfished state. However, B50 is a good place to start if we want to get the maximum yield of fish while having a self-sustaining fishery. B50 will help to make fish stocks more resilient to looming climatic and land-based threats.

A thriving fishery is a good solution to feed a growing human population, and B50 means larger and many more juvenile fish in our coastal waters.

More fish in the water means we can go fish off the beach and have a reasonable chance of bringing home dinner. It means you can pass on fishing knowledge to your children and have the confidence that they can pass those lessons onto their children, because the fish will be there.

B50 is a core component of our Rescue Fish policy, as rebuilding fish populations means more fish in the water.  Rescue Fish seeks to restore marine biodiversity by rebuilding fish stocks to abundant levels.

To get more fish in the water, we need a strong show of public support for B50. Please sign the Rescue Fish petition at rescuefish.co.nz/petition.