BLUE COD RULES
FISHERS NOT HAPPY
The new Marlborough Sounds
blue cod rules, (effective 20th December 2015) will not please everyone, and that is probably a good thing. But one thing everyone is happy about is the wasteful SLOT RULE is gone!
Commercial operators might not be happy with the spawning season closure applying to their sector, the same as it does to recreational, and there has been some grumbling about “compensation for lost property rights”. Commercial will take another (perceived) hit if and when Nick Smith announces the Recreational Only Fishing Parks in the Sounds.
Some recreational fishermen, especially in Nelson and Tasman Bay, are not happy with their daily bag limit being reduced from three to two and there have been calls for a 30% cut to commercial quota without acknowledging that Commercial have just taken a 30% reduction in the number of months which they can fish, or that, as history shows, Commercial are not the greatest influence on blue cod abundance in the Marlborough Sounds. Let me explain - When recreational fishing was banned between 2008 and 2011 the fishery bounced back and became hugely abundant, despite commercial activity continuing and despite commercial landings increasing during that period. Immediately after Recreational fishing resumed (with the wasteful SLOT RULE in place) the scientific surveys between 2012 and 2015 showed significant declines. These results prove that recreational fishing pressure is the main driver of blue cod size and abundance in the Sounds, not commercial.
Commercial blue cod quota for area BCO7 has been constrained to 70 tonnes since it was set in 1992, this has not altered. Approximately 30 tonnes are taken out of Statistical Area 017, which includes the Marlborough Sounds and Cook Strait. There are only about six to nine cod potters operating in Statistical Area 017 and their eye is on the long term sustainability of their businesses, not the over exploitation of the fishery.
By contrast the number of recreational fishers has doubled or trebled since 1992 with a corresponding increase in harvest. Nobody actually knows how much recreational fishers take, but with at least 20,000 recreational fishermen in the Nelson – Marlborough region, it is certainly more than Commercial.
The problem is not one of Recreational verses Commercial, it is more about the global trend; an ever increasing number of people, targeting and ever decreasing number of fish, with ever improving technology. Put simply, we have become too effective at catching fish, and there are too many of us for the fish to reproduce fast enough.
Add to that the stresses put on coastal fisheries through the ever increasing number of environmental threats such as habitat destruction, siltation caused by forestry, runoff from farming, aquaculture and invasive marine pests and you have a cocktail for disaster which is not Recreational verses Commercial based.
The problem is MPI continue to cling on to the 1986 Quota Management System, which is an obsolete, single species business model, as if it is still, “world leading!?” It is not. The QMS simply controls the rate of extraction, but does nothing to increase breeding inputs. For a better, more sustainable, fisheries model GOOGLE Rockfish Conservation Areas, Canada. This is the model NZ should be following.
CONVENOR – COALITION OF THE COMBINED CLUBS OF WELLINGTON