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Reduction in red cod fishing bag limit

31 March 2008

Reduction in red cod fishing bag limit

Fisheries Minister Jim Anderton today announced a reduction in the daily limit on red cod that can be caught by recreational fishers in the southern and eastern South Island.

Previously, recreational fishers were allowed to take up to 30 red cod per fisher. Under the new limit, fishers will be restricted to 10 red cod per fisher per day.

The new limit takes effect on 1 April 2008 and will apply in the red cod 3 (RCO3) fishery that runs from the Clarence River on the Marlborough Coast around the southern South Island to Awarua Point, just above Fiordland.

Jim Anderton said scientific research has shown that the numbers of red cod in RCO3 has been declining in recent years as there have been very low numbers of juvenile fish surviving into adulthood. The most recent stock assessment showed the fishery was only 40% of the previous lowest estimate in 1991.

In October 2007 the total allowable commercial catch, which applies to commercial fishers, was cut by 63% in response to falling numbers of fish.

"Recreational fishers also need to shoulder some of the effort to protect the future of this important fishery. I am aware that this will have an impact on fishers but I think that 10 fish per day is still a reasonable amount.

"By taking decisive action now we can help make sure that there will be a fishery there for our grandchildren to enjoy."

Recreational fishers, especially from Canterbury, offered this bag reduction as their contribution to a rebuild of the fishery provided there was also a reduction in the commercial catch.

"I applaud the recreational fishing community for their responsible and proactive approach to protecting the future of this fishery," Jim Anderton said.

"I am committed to ensuring the sustainability of our red cod fishery. It is being closely monitored and, if necessary, I will take further steps to protect it for future generations."

The abundance of red cod is heavily influenced by the number of baby fish spawned that survive to adulthood and enter the fishery (recruitment). This in turn is heavily influenced by environmental factors such as sea temperature, weather and currents, available food and the number of predators.

The level of recruitment naturally fluctuates from year to year but it is unusual to have several years of such poor recruitment in a row. What is causing this is unknown and we are therefore taking a precautionary approach to the fishery.


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