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New regulations for the 2005/06 fishing year

Minister announces new regulations for the 2005/06 fishing year

Caretaker Fisheries Minister David Benson-Pope has today announced sustainability measures and other management controls for the new fishing year, which begins on 1 October 2005.

"These decisions will ensure ongoing sustainable management of New Zealand’s fisheries resources, and follow consideration of the best available information and consultation with all stakeholders, including recreational, commercial and customary fishers, as well as environmental groups," said Mr Benson-Pope.

These decisions have been gazetted today [30 September 2005].

North Island west coast snapper fishery (SNA 8) The annual Total Allowable Catch in the Snapper 8 fishery will be reduced from 2060 tonnes to 1785 tonnes to allow the fishstock to rebuild more quickly. In the interests of fairness, the Minister says this reduction in harvest will be shared between all users of the fishery. In addition, the Minister has reduced the amateur daily bag limit in the northern part of the management area from 15 to 10 – bringing the bag limit into line with the southern part of the management area. The Minister has made an increase to the penalty rate (annual deemed value) payable by commercial fishers in the snapper (SNA 8) fishery.

“The west coast snapper fishery is one of our most important shared fisheries,” said Mr Benson-Pope. “A 2005 stock assessment estimates snapper at just half the target biomass for this species, and that a rebuild strategy put in place in 1998 hasn't achieved expected results. Fish numbers aren’t rebuilding as quickly as I’d like, and we need to reduce our catch. To be fair to all New Zealanders, I’ve decided these reductions should be shared across all sectors.”

Kahawai The annual Total Allowable Catch of kahawai in all areas will be reduced by 10 percent, to allow stocks to rebuild. Again, this reduction in catch will be shared between all sectors.

“Kahawai is important to our recreational and customary fishers; it is also a significant commercial species,” said Mr Benson Pope. "I have been persuaded of the benefits of a faster and more certain rebuild of kahawai, and in having greater certainty that this species will not decline."

Mr Benson-Pope said no change would be made to recreational bag limits pending further information on recreational take. He says there is no evidence that the recreational sector is catching the allowance assigned to it, however, this issue will need to be monitored on an on-going basis.

Northern North Island Grey Mullet (GMU 1), Rig (SPO 1), and Flatfish (FLA 1) No changes will be made to the annual Total Allowable Catches (TAC) of grey mullet, rig or flatfish in the northern North Island region.

“I’ve carefully considered the best available information from scientists and stakeholders,” said Mr Benson-Pope. “I’ve decided that changing the TAC is not likely to address the particular concerns about localised depletion. However, the review process has emphasised the concerns of a range of stakeholders and I have directed the Ministry to provide advice on a range of options to deal with these concerns as a matter of priority.”

Other fisheries The Minister has agreed to retain catch allowances at current levels for the eastern and southern elephant fish stocks (ELE 3 & 5), the eastern South Island rig (SPO 3) fishery, and the Hoki (HOK 1) fishery.

He has decided to increase the Total Allowable Catch of the western South Island hake fishery (HAK 7) from 6,923.4 tonnes to 7,777 tonnes, to reflect the healthy state of this fish stock.

Other Regulation changes include:

Kingfish The Minister has agreed to regulations that will allow kingfish to be returned to the sea by commercial fishers, providing the fish are likely to survive. This measure will not apply to kingfish caught by set nets.

The Minister says this change will let commercial fishers who take unwanted kingfish as a bycatch to return them to the sea. “This change has the potential to improve the availability of fish for other users,” he said.

Beach-cast seaweeds The Minister has agreed to make four new areas available for commercial harvesting of beach-cast seaweeds. These include parts of the Bay of Plenty/Coromandel Peninsula, Gisborne region, Banks Peninsula region, and the Marlborough Sounds region. These areas are based on sensible boundaries around areas of known current use, and exclude areas of particular sensitivity in terms of wildlife or environmental impact.

Deemed values adjustments The Minister has agreed to reduce some penalty rates (annual deemed values) payable by commercial fishers on catches above their Annual Catch Entitlement. These will apply to: alfonsino (BYX 1), Jack mackerel (JMA 3), rough skate (RSK 1 & 3), stargazer (STA 8), tarakihi (TAR 4), sea perch (SPE 4), elephant fish (ELE 3 & 5), and häpuka (HPB 3). Differential deemed values will no longer apply to pale ghost shark (GSP) or elephant fish (ELE 3 and 5).

These decisions were required to be made prior to the start of the 1 October fishing year, so the Minister, acting under the caretaker government convention, consulted with other political parties before coming to these decisions.

Recreational fishing groups had asked the Minister to consider a number of changes to the recreational fishing regulations prior to this coming summer. However, these are not time dependent, so they will be left for the incoming Minister of Fisheries in a new Government to address.

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