Nash coy on fisheries changes, after report calls for major overhaul

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Changes are afoot for recreational fishers, but the Government is remaining coy as to what they will be.

The plans would be announced “before Christmas”, Fisheries Minister Stuart Nash said in Wellington on Monday evening at a panel discussion on the future of fishing.

It followed the release of The Future Catch, a report produced by independent think-tank The New Zealand Initiative, which calls for compulsory fishing licences, and the possible removal of minimum size limits for some species.



Recreational anglers at the discussion dismissed the proposals in the report, written by former Ministry for Primary Industries employee Randall Bess.

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NZ Sport Fishing Council vice-president Bob Gutsell said: “The council does not support any of the recommendations, particularly around proportional allocation.”



He said they represented a “huge risk for the interests of the public and non-commercial fishers of New Zealand”.

The report outlines a five-year study on the state of New Zealand’s recreational fishing sector, with a focus on preserving fish stocks for the next generation of recreational anglers.

It recommends:

* Investigating removing minimum size limits for some species, including snapper.

* Introducing a recreational fishing licence for anglers, registration system for boats, or petrol excise duty, to better fund management of recreational fishing.

* Establishing a representative recreational fishing body to advocate the rights of recreational anglers and promote responsible fishing.

* Reform outdated 1980s recreational fishing policy.

* Improving data collection using a mobile app.

* Improve the Ministry for Primary Industries culture through greater sector involvement.

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Nash said the Government did not have enough information to commit to an action plan yet.

Its focus was to deliver propositions to the industries that hopefully exceeded expectations, he said.

“The first requirement for effective management is accurate and up-to-date information.

“The rollout of digital monitoring will give us accurate information about what’s happening on the commercial side of our shared fisheries, enabling a more agile and more responsive decision-making, and helping to avoid localised depletion.

“We have a moral and social obligation to use technology in innovative ways to better inform management decisions.

“It is clear that we could provide more opportunities to recreational fishers to be better engaged … we all want sustainable fisheries for current and future generations, but we all have a role to play.

“I’m confident, I fully believe that we can have a thriving commercial fishing industry alongside customary and recreational sectors that can fish in abundant, shared fisheries.”

Stuff

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