Top Scoops

Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | Scoop News | Wellington Scoop | Community Scoop | Search


Freshwater fishery law could spark debate

Originally published in Energy and Environment on August 15

A bill creating a new regulatory regime for freshwater fisheries could lead to new debate about the management of controversial species such as whitebait and eels, as well as anger some recreational fishers.

The Conservation (Freshwater Fisheries Regulation) Reform Bill introduced to Parliament last week does not in itself bring in any new management measures, but does reform the current regime and bring in new regulation powers. It also brings in better protection for indigenous freshwater fish within conservation areas.

The Department of Conservation says the current regulations in the Conservation Act are outdated and difficult to use and do not bring the basic controls on the taking of fish into line with current practice and expectations.

NZ has 77 species of freshwater fish. 53 of them are indigenous and most of those are endemic. A large proportion of these are endangered. Some fisheries have significantly reduced in productivity and size over the last 50-100 years, notably whitebait, eel, mussels and lamprey.

Eels are an important commercial fishery, NIWA estimates the commercial eel fishery to be worth $6.1m annually, but there are concerns about the state of some populations. Commercial eeling is managed by MPI.

Whitebait fisheries are managed under whitebait fishing regulations by DoC. The regulations do not control the amount of fish taken, but control catch methods, seasons, and hours in which fishing can occur.

There have been requests to ban commercial sale or fishing of some species including whitebait, but DoC says the evidence shows habitat loss and degradation is a far larger problem for freshwater species. Any changes to the whitebait regime would be done through the new regulations after consultation.

DoC said there may be concern from some stakeholders about new regulation making powers allowing covering some currently unregulated activities that kill fish. But any future regulation of those activities would need to be fully consulted.

DoC also said some will question why more extensive reforms are not being done, notably banning of all whitebait fishing.

Treasury has warned DoC there had not been consultation with iwi and stakeholders. However, the reform was designed to ensure there were no changes to Maori fisheries rights and any new regulations would have to be consulted upon

DoC also said “a few individuals will not be able to fish without an authorisation (those who fish for sport, those who do recreational fishing in conservation areas) … They will generally have easy access to alternatives, or the lost activity is one society does not condone.”

© Scoop Media

Top Scoops Headlines


Commercial Scoop User? Help Scoop Survive (and Thrive!)

The ScoopPro licensing terms require that commercial users of pay a reasonable fee in order to access the Scoop site so that this same information remains free and accessible to the wider public regardless of their disposable income. More>>


Joseph Cederwall: Building a Community Newsroom

A combination of new technology, ideas, institutions and business models and a renewed energy and commitment by the Scoop team, means Scoop aims to be at the forefront of the development of this renaissance that we term ‘News 3.0’. More>>


Scoop 3.0: Saving The News

Scoop Co-Founder Alastair Thompson - One of the saddest aspects of the decline of the news industry, not just here in NZ - but everywhere, is that it often seems invisible, in large part because news is a confidence business... More>>


UK Cabinet Backs Deal: Gordon Campbell On The Latest Roll Of The Brexit Dice

Brexit has left the British public looking like a nation of Wellington bus commuters. In both cases, the unholy mess bears no resemblance to what people were promised or the spin being used to justify it. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On The Democratic Leadership And Trump

On the big picture, the poll predictions were dead right. In the end, the Democratic Party won a clear victory in the House, and lost as expected in the Senate, where it had been defending at least 10 seats in regions that had voted heavily for Trump in 2016. More>>