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Baldock: Recreational fishers done over again

Media Statement
For Immediate Release
Tuesday, 10 August 2004

Baldock: Recreational fishers done over again

United Future fisheries spokesman Larry Baldock today raised a strong objection to the Government's announcement of the total allowable commercial catch for kahawai on its introduction into the Quota Management System.

"The levels set reflect show no serious regard for the submissions made by the Recreational Fishing Council and the recreational fishing group, Option 4, in regard to their concerns about the depletion of kahawai.

"One of the largest email campaigns I have seen urged the Minister of Fisheries, David Benson-Pope, to respect kahawai as primarily a recreational fish and in reality, that has been ignored.

"Setting the Total Allowable Commercial Catch that will still make it economical for purse seining - a fishing method that rapidly scoops up entire schools of fish in one go, leaving nothing for nearby recreational fishers - to target kahawai schools is absurd.

"When we consider the fish is not worth much more than 20 cents a kilo commercially, it does not make sense, for the sake of a few hundred thousand dollars, to allow purse seining to continue.

"When kahawai is caught as a by-catch, that is another matter and an allowance needed to be made for that eventuality," Mr Baldock said.

The Ministry of Fisheries' own officials openly admit that the science regarding kahawai bio-mass is still very vague and that therefore, they ought to have been markedly more cautious when setting commercial catch limits, he said.

"While on paper the recreational allowance is high, it is meaningless because the commercial catch will occur first leaving nothing for recreational fishermen.

"I do not understand the rationale behind the Minister's setting of the de-value so high - three times the port price of the fish. If this is supposed to discourage targeting, then the matter should have been addressed by limiting commercial catch quota for persona.

"Such a high deemed value will only lead to unnecessary dumping particularly when smaller New Zealand fishing vessels inadvertently catch kahawai.

They do not have sufficient by-catch quota and therefore will be forced to break the law and dump stock. This serves no one, and certainly does not benefit recreational fishermen.

"I have strongly advocated both with officials and the Minister over the last weeks and months to urge them to take notice of the recreational fishing interests. This is as important commercial issue as the fish itself.

"Many New Zealanders remain in this country because of the lifestyle they enjoy and that includes the opportunity to go recreational fishing and catch kahawai. It is a trade-off between hundreds of thousands of them and their interests and a paltry $200,000 or $300,000 worth of fish which is turned into fish meal."


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