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Changes to fisheries regulations on N-W coast

31 March 2008 Media Statement

Changes to fisheries regulations on N-W coast

Fisheries Minister Jim Anderton today announced two important changes to fisheries regulations on the north-west coast of the North Island. One change affects recreational fishers, while the other affects commercial fishers.

The season for recreational scallop fishing is being changed to bring it into line with the season on the North Island's north-east coast.

A new rule is being put in place that will ban commercial fishers from leaving set nets exposed at low tide on the Kaipara Harbour.

The open season for recreational scallop gathering on the north-west coast of the North Island, from Tirua Point (south of Kawhia Harbour) to North Cape, has been changed to 1 September through to 31 March - effective this year.

In 2007, the season for scallops on the north-east coast of the North Island was shifted from 15 July to 14 February each year to a new season of 1 September - 31 March. This was in response to a proposal from the New Zealand Recreational Fishing Council that the fishing season be shifted due to scallops being in poor condition at the start of the season and in very good condition at the end of the fishing season. The season for the west coast wasn't changed at that time and remained as 15 July to 14 February.

Jim Anderton said that an unfortunate consequence of this change in season was confusion amongst recreational fishers surrounding the separate seasons between the east and west coasts and when they can and can't fish for scallops.

"The relatively short distance between the two coasts means that some fishers regularly gather scallops on both sides of the island.

"To remove any confusion the scallop season for the west coast has been shifted to match the season on the east coast and will open on 1 September this year."

This new season of 1 September to 31 March now applies to the area that stretches from Tirua Point (south of Kawhia Harbour) around the northern tip of the North Island to Cape Runaway. The recreational scallop season in other areas of New Zealand remains unchanged.

A temporary prohibition on the taking of scallops remains in place for the Kaipara Harbour until 14 September 2008 to help rebuild stocks.

Stalling of set nets, where a net is set so that when the tide falls; the net and any fish in it are left trapped and exposed, is banned in all areas of New Zealand except for the Kaipara Harbour, where commercial fishers were exempted, because of the large size of the Kaipara mud flats and the boats used by commercial fishers being very slow.

Boats used by fishers now are much faster, and the set nets in use and method of fishing have changed.

Jim Anderton said there was no longer any justifiable reason why commercial fishers should be able to stall nets in the Kaipara Harbour when they cannot stall their nets in other harbours with extensive mud flats, such as the Manukau.

Stalling of nets leads to fish wastage as caught fish are unlikely to survive being exposed and may become spoiled in the sun. This means that target fish are not fit for sale and undersize and non-target bycatch fish cannot be released alive.

"This wastage of fish is not good for the sustainability of fishstocks. Prohibiting stalling of set nets in the Kaipara should reduce wastage and help improve sustainability".

The penalty for commercial fishers caught stalling set nets is a fine of up to $100,000.

Recreational and customary Mäori fishers are already banned from stalling set nets in all parts of New Zealand, including the Kaipara Harbour.

More information on these changes to fisheries regulations is available on the Ministry of Fisheries website


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