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Fisheries bylaws a step closer to river restoration

March 12, 2014

Waikato-Tainui fisheries bylaws a step closer to river restoration

Waikato-Tainui proposed fisheries bylaws will aid efforts to restore the Waikato River by enhancing the sustainability of its native fisheries resources.

The six recently established Waikato River bylaws focus on sustainable fishing practices, support for native eel migration and recognition of traditional management practices within the Waikato-Tainui fisheries area.

Rahui Papa, Chairman of Waikato-Tainui tribal executive Te Arataura, says “The creation of fisheries laws by Maori is ground breaking and the first of its kind in New Zealand.
“These new bylaws fulfil the fisheries goals and aspirations of Waikato-Tainui and the greater Waikato region as it brings us a step closer to restoring the health and wellbeing of the Waikato River – one of this country’s most precious resources.”
The tribe undertook a rigorous and open engagement process with the public to establish the robust set of bylaws which ensure the fisheries of the Waikato River are enhanced and sustained into the future for all New Zealanders.

“These bylaws are a collaboration effort between Waikato-Tainui, the commercial eel sector and the wider community,” says Mr Papa. “Demonstrating that co-management of the Waikato River works.”

Mike Holmes, Chairman of the North Island Eel Industry, says the bylaw process has created a close working relationship between Waikato-Tainui and the commercial sector. “This relationship enables good information flow to and from Waikato-Tainui's river management teams, and has enabled local issues to be addressed with more flexibility and efficiency.”

The bylaws will come in to effect from April 10 and apply only to the Waikato-Tainui fisheries area. This area covers the Waikato River, its lakes and its tributaries from Port Waikato to Karapiro, and part of the Waipa River from its junction with the Waikato River at Ngaruawahia to Puniu Stream. The six bylaws are:

Bylaw 1: Incidental catch and release of eels weighing more than the maximum size limit of 2kg and female longfin eels that are in the migratory morphological phase below migration barriers.

Bylaw 2: Temporary raahui (prohibition) on the taking of fisheries resources from any area within the Waikato-Tainui Fisheries Area due to the occurrence of a human death.

Bylaw 3: Seasonal closure prohibiting the commercial harvest of any eels from specific streams and rivers of the Whangamarino wetland during the tuna heke (eel migration) from 1 March to 31 May.

Bylaw 4: Increasing the minimum weight for commercially harvested eels to 300 grams for the short fin eel species and 400 grams for the longfin eel species.

Bylaw 5: Reducing the maximum weight for commercially harvested eels to 2 kilograms.

Bylaw 6: Prohibition on taking of female migrant longfin eels.

For a full explanation on each bylaw, see www.wrrt.co.nz/projects/fisheries/.

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