More than 10,000 people put their name to supporting our recent submissions to the Minister of Oceans and Fisheries calling for more conservative management of our precious marine environment.
Many of these people are frustrated that the Minister still permits environmentally destructive acts such as dragging weighted chains and box dredges across seafloor habitats.
Bottom trawling has been the main issue addressed by our fisheries policy team from the New Zealand Sport Fishing Council (NZSFC). The team worked with a number of other national organisations to develop seven submissions in response to proposals from Fisheries New Zealand.
Substantial comments were made on the future management of snapper, hāpuku, bass, gurnard, kingfish, southern bluefin tuna, blue cod and tarakihi. Now it’s up to the Minister, Hon David Parker, to make decisions for these species that will apply from October this year.
There is an urgent need for the Minister to conservatively manage fish stocks that are approaching overfished thresholds. The adverse effects of trawling need to be accounted for by setting lower catch limits for fish species that are trawled or caught as bycatch of trawl fisheries. The current practice of managing each species separately means the effects of fishing on more vulnerable species in the mixed fishery are ignored.
For example, Fisheries NZ proposed to double the commercial take of snapper off the west coast of the North Island. There will undoubtedly be an increase in trawl effort, yet for species that share the fishery area such as red gurnard, there is no stock assessment. We know that gurnard are in big trouble and need severe catch reductions. We recently submitted in support of the Minister applying substantial reductions to commercial catch levels of gurnard around the top half of the North Island.
Continuing to trawl in our inshore waters will eventually lead to situations where the marine habitat cannot support large numbers of fish. This creates a downward spiral, productivity is lost and fish become scarce. Social, cultural, and economic reliance on seafood will diminish and future generations may lose the privilege of being able to catch a fish.
Bottom trawling is becoming socially unacceptable, and in our recent campaign we encouraged people to express themselves. To tell the Minister what they thought of the ongoing destruction of our collective marine estate. Through campaigning we managed to get a combined 10,000 people to make submissions on west coast North Island snapper (SNA 8) and east coast South Island blue cod (BCO 3). Many people submitted in support of us, and our submissions.
Now it’s up to Minister David Parker to make the right decisions. As many people stated in their submissions – We must protect the fish, because at the end of the day you can’t eat money.
Changes will apply from October 1st 2021.