Save Our Snapper was launched in 2013 after the Ministry for Primary Industries put forward proposals for both large and unnecessary cuts to recreational snapper bag limits and proportional allocation of the available catch between recreational and commercial interests, all while ignoring the wastage caused by commercial bulk harvesting methods.
The Ministry’s proposals were part of the sustainability review for the Snapper 1 fishery that spans East Northland, through Auckland, down the Bay of Plenty to the top of the East Cape. This was the first review since 1997.
New sustainability targets had been put forward for the Snapper 1 fishery, and this was a positive move we advocated for. The prior targets were 20% (of unfished biomass – which is the total weight of fish that would be in the water if there was no fishing) and the new targets are 40%. What this basically means is that the fishery will be managed to provide more fish in the water. Big tick. In order to reach this target all fishing activity by all Kiwis – commercial and public – would need to be looked at.
The Ministry for Primary Industries put forward their proposals to manage the fishery into the future and quite frankly they were a shocker. Huge and unnecessary recreational bag limit cuts were put forward for ALL options, nothing in the proposal addressed commercial waste, and all options sought to introduce proportional share (our worst nightmare).
In November 2012 our fisheries management team from the New Zealand Sport Fishing Council put a Snapper 1 Policy forward to the Ministry, giving them perspectives and options from the recreational point of view. We did this on behalf of our LegaSea supporters and NZ Sport Fishing Council members (32,000 at the time).
Our fisheries management and marine research professionals crafted options to rebuild the fishery for the benefit of all, in a logical and reasoned manner (because that’s how we roll).
Firstly, we asked the Ministry to construct a management strategy for Snapper 1 to reach the 40% biomass goal.
Next, look at the area where the potential of the fishery was being held back – juvenile mortality. One of the issues facing the fishery was that not enough young fish were growing to be adult fish. Reducing the number of young fish being killed prematurely (by both commercial and recreational fishers) would enable these fish to grow and breed and build stocks. Addressing commercial waste (which is unmeasured and unreported) would have a big impact. We know this because of overseas reports and the nature of old trawl technology.
Third, in line with the law, the Fisheries Act 1996, adequately identify and “allow for” the social, cultural and economic interests of the people of New Zealand. We offered to initiate research and consultation with Kiwi fishers to see what measures would be voluntarily embraced to contribute to our conservation of the fishery.
In essence it called for a thoughtful and balanced approach to managing the fishery, working together.
If you add up all fish caught in New Zealand waters, commercial fishing accounts for over 90% of it so they’re certainly not hard done by.
Minister’s Snapper 1 decision
While the initial Ministry proposals were well wide of the mark the resulting Ministerial decision had some positive outcomes that would not have been reached without your support.
There is clear intent to monitor and reduce commercial waste (this will of course need effective implementation) but finally after nearly 30 years definite progress in this area with good potential gains for the fishery.
The Minister of Primary Industries, Nathan Guy, rejected the Ministry’s proposal to introduce proportional share – phew! A stave of execution, but this will come up again, no doubt about it.
A new allowance, an increase of 500 tonnes, provides for a large part of current public needs, righting the wrongs of the 1997 allowance. How this will change with population growth has yet to be revealed.
Many were disappointed with the reduction of the daily bag limit from 9 snapper to 7, because (according to the Ministry’s own reports) it will rebuild the fishery by less than the margin of error. It doesn’t make sense as an effective conservation measure, and it merely serves to placate the commercial sector.
The decision to increase the legal size for recreational fishers from 27cm to 30cm, which will reduce what fishers can keep, was received poorly by many, given the commercial legal size remained at 25cm.
So essentially the only action taken on the commercial sector was to clean up abhorrent waste (that was well overdue and is being half funded by tax-payer funds), while the people of New Zealand were once again adversely penalised with ever reducing bag limits.
The concern we have is that the continual rate of bag limit reductions over the last 20+ years will see our children and grandchildren reduced to 1 or 2 snapper. The commercial sector quota and profits are seemingly being protected. In 1986 commercial quota was 4710 tonnes and today it is still 4500 tonnes, meanwhile we’ve suffered bag limit decreases of over 70% during the same timeframe.
It’s important to remember that the reason the fishery was in a poor state to begin with was because of historic commercial overfishing. Our call is for balanced and fair decision making by the Minister and Ministry, and the decision had good aspects, but still ultimately penalised Kiwis and not the wastage caused by commercial fishing.
If you add up all fish caught in New Zealand waters, commercial fishing accounts for over 90% of it so they’re certainly not hard done by.
What was truly inspirational during the course of the SOS: Save Our Snapper campaign was the passion of people to stand up and fight for their rights. Kiwis from all different backgrounds and walks of life were unified by one thing – their love of the priceless experience that fishing provides them, their families and communities. Many recreational fishing businesses came to the fore with support, and this support continues to grow.
The most positive aspect of this has been showing the decision makers in industry and government, that we will rise up and fight poor management of our fisheries. There are many issues in our fisheries that need to be addressed and we’ve shown through our united action we’re not going to lie down and take it any more. This is just the beginning. Together we did make a difference to the outcome of snapper – the decision could have been much worse. Our public lobbying campaign had a very high media profile and this is something we will build on.
We’re up for the challenge, with your support we’re building our resources, and this is only the beginning.
As the public outreach brand of the New Zealand Sport Fishing Council we support and promote your interests for better management of our precious fisheries resources to ensure that there will be abundant fisheries for future generations of Kiwis. By making a modest monthly contribution of $10 or more (that’s two coffees or less than a bag of bait) we can apply the resources required to effectively lobby for better fisheries and management practices.
July 20, 2021
After 33 years of rebuilding, the Snapper 8 (SNA 8) fishery is finally in good shape, reaching an estimated biomass of 54% of the original population size. Fisheries NZ is proposing four potential options to increase the Total Allowable Commercial Catch (TACC) of 1300 tonnes. They propose to increase the TACC by either 25, 50, 75 or 100%. More commercial fishing in Snapper 8 means more bottom trawling, and this could jeopardise the recovery of snapper. LegaSea is supporting Option Zero. No TACC increase.
July 5, 2021
The long awaited consultation for Snapper 8 (SNA8) is underway and we are busily working through the government’s proposed changes on . SNA8 is a fisheries area situated along the west coast of the North Island from North Cape to Kapiti (see map). The fishery was almost trawled to extinction during the 1970s and 1980s, […]
November 9, 2016
“Oh! What a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive”, Sir Walter Scott, 1808. This quote refers to how complex life can get if you don’t tell the truth. It is derived from a play about a love triangle and yet it is so applicable to what is happening in fisheries circles […]
November 4, 2016
Survey results, stinging attack on MPI, the future of recreational fishing. Snapper 1 survey results Last month we asked you to take part in the Snapper 1 survey and thanks to all those who took the time to respond. More than 2500 of you took the 12-question survey. A summary has been fed back to […]
November 3, 2016
November 2016 During October 2016 LegaSea ran an online survey to gauge recreational fishers’ reaction to the proposed Snapper 1 Management Plan, released for public comment on 2 September. The 12-question survey attracted 2596 responses in a week. LegaSea thanks all respondents for their prompt feedback. SNA1 Management Plan In 2013 there was unprecedented media […]
October 28, 2016
5pm deadline for LegaSea snapper survey, concerning news for our marine environment, more support for an Inquiry. The future of our snapper – LegaSea survey closes at 5pm today. Here’s something you can do to help better inform the Ministry for Primary Industries and the policy makers: take this survey on snapper and let them […]
September 28, 2016
After two years and 26 joint meetings, the proposed management plan for Snapper 1 on the northeast coast has been released. Given the substantial investment of time and money from recreational fishers the plan is a disappointment, mainly because only issues that could be agreed by all parties were included in the document. We have […]
July 26, 2016
How many millions of snapper are being wasted every year due to commercial fishing? That’s a simple question. After the 2013 controversy Minister Nathan Guy and commercial interests agreed to a raft of measures to estimate the weight of undersized snapper returned to the sea in the northeastern fishery, Snapper 1. After numerous requests, some […]
February 10, 2015
Summer is a hectic time of year for the LegaSea team as there are so many fund raising events, fishing contests and community gatherings to attend. It is such a buzz to see people enjoying the fishing, the camaraderie with their mates, and spending quality time amongst family. And this is just a snapshot of […]
November 10, 2014
A popular misconception is that all fishing is managed via quota and the Quota Management System. Truth is, quota is used to manage commercial fishing. Recreational fishing is managed outside the QMS, and daily bag and minimum size limits are used to control each individual’s catch. LegaSea is committed to ensuring public fishing remains free […]
November 1, 2014
One of the major talking points during the snapper campaign in 2013 was the assertion that recreational catch had increased exponentially and that effort needed to be reined in through bag limit reductions. Fact is, management of Snapper 1 had not been reviewed for 16 years and the recreational allowance made in 1997 did not […]
August 30, 2014
Five meetings of the Snapper 1 Strategy Group have now been held. There has also been a number of meetings between the Ministry for Primary Industries and representatives of the various stakeholder groups. Our dedicated team has been flat out developing reference documents that present a best-case scenario for future management of our fisheries, not […]
August 28, 2014
Addressing wastage was a big issue during our 2013 SOS Save Our Snapper campaign. LegaSea is concerned that proposed new measures have done little to reduce the unnecessary waste caused by trawling inshore. But who knows? The Ministry for Primary Industries is stonewalling requests for data from trials that measure how much fish is being […]
August 25, 2014
LegaSea is advocating a bottom-up approach to rebuilding our fisheries. That is because mortality on small fish can be reduced at minimal cost and yet it has the greatest benefit to the rate of rebuild. Snapper caught in trawl and Danish seine nets need to have a strict maximum juvenile mortality rate applied to the […]
August 9, 2014
Since the beginning of the year there have been five meetings of the multi-stakeholder Snapper 1 Strategy Group. Our recreational representatives are ready to discuss the important issues of management targets to increase overall biomass in Area 1, but it is slow going. Increasing biomass means having a thriving population of more and bigger fish. […]
July 30, 2014
The multi-stakeholder Snapper 1 Strategy Group has had three meetings, with the fourth due in mid-June. Our recreational representatives are keen to get stuck into discussing the important issues of management targets to increase overall biomass in Area 1, but it is slow going. Increasing biomass means having a thriving population of more and bigger […]
July 1, 2014
It was good to see many of you at the Hutchwilco New Zealand Boat Show in Auckland. Sharing information and getting your feedback during the 4-day show made the team’s effort worthwhile. Your thoughts on our future plans are most welcome so please stay in touch. A big thanks to the Hutchwilco New Zealand Boat […]
April 4, 2014
Snapper lovers will be pleased to know the planned strategy group discussions are underway, with all sectors getting a say in how they want to have the northern fishery managed in the future. Our objectives have been shaped around the many thousands of submissions made during last year’s SOS – Save Our Snapper campaign. LegaSea […]
March 28, 2014
Recreational fishing advocacy group LegaSea is calling on amateur fishers to comply with the new snapper bag and size limits that will come into effect on April Fool’s day, even though many believe they are unfair. From April 1st the individual snapper daily bag limit will be seven, down from nine each. The minimum legal […]
March 10, 2014
In last months column, we talked about changes to crayfish coming our way. In early December 2013 the Ministry for Primary Industries advised us of potential management changes in CRA 2 (Bay of Plenty and Hauraki Gulf) and CRA 9 (West Coast). Consultation documents were due out before Christmas. Quota increases were likely to be […]
March 3, 2014
This is the time of year that many fishers dream of, warm water, fish on the bite and competitions galore. Whatever your fishing fancy, there is an event that caters to your taste. A really pleasing aspect is the number of events that are donating the proceeds to LegaSea. Every cent counts and is spent […]
January 10, 2014
Hard work by passionate advocates turned the tide on four iconic fish species in 2013. If you supported any of these causes you should feel proud, thank you. Yellowfin tuna stocks globally have retracted due to international commercial fishing pressure and Greenpeace led the charge campaigning to stop the sale of yellowfin tuna caught using […]
December 12, 2013
After the snapper decision, we reviewed hundreds of pages of Ministry reports and documents and we’ve planned our next steps to continue to improve the future of Snapper 1. Increased release mortality is one issue that will need to be addressed sooner rather than later, because as of 1st of April 2014 recreational fishers will […]
December 1, 2013
Warm weather means more fishing, but in the Bay of Plenty there’s still concerns to be addressed for snapper. Stocks are classified as “collapsed” and so LegaSea will be calling for specific action to be taken in the Bay. This is one of a few focus areas for LegaSea as a result of Nathan Guy’s […]
November 29, 2013
One thing that has struck me in recent months is how people from all walks of life enjoy fishing. New Zealand is a wonderful melting pot of different cultures and people with varying backgrounds – but there is something wonderfully unifying in the form of a fishing rod. During the recent Save Our Snapper campaign […]
November 10, 2013
Allegations of greed have been made against those fishers who wanted to retain the existing snapper bag and size limits of nine snapper at 27cm. This highlights a couple of points. The first is that some people still don’t fully understand the bigger picture of the proposed changes to Snapper 1 (and it is complex), the […]
October 2, 2013
Are private profits and export dollars really more important than the people of New Zealand? Nathan Guys decision on the Snapper 1 fishery will tell us loud and clear where this governments allegiance lies – people or profits. Any day now (if not already) his decision will be announced. 48,000 submissions and 365,000 emails sent […]
September 30, 2013
This month Nathan Guy, the Minister for Primary Industries is due to announce his decision that will determine the future of our snapper fishing through the Bay of Plenty, Coromandel, Hauraki Gulf and East Northland. Thank you to everyone who joined with LegaSea to make a stand and sent a submission to the Ministry to […]
September 18, 2013
Media release Recreational fishing advocacy group LegaSea, say recreational fishers are rightfully angry that their daily bag limits have been cut from nine to seven and the minimum legal size has been increased, from 27 to 30cm, when there is no change to commercial catch limits. Most of the snapper quota in Area 1 is […]
August 29, 2013
It is shocking that the Ministry for Primary Industries has proposed to slash snapper bag limits while the commercial sector is largely unaffected! The time has come for action. We are rallying support to fight for the future of our snapper fishery, fight for our voice to be heard, and fight against commercial greed and […]