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Ministry of Fisheries Surveys Recreational Fishing

Ministry of Fisheries Surveys Recreational Fishing

Mon, 21 Jun 2004

News Release

Many of the hundreds of fishers using the Hauraki Gulf over the last summer may have been surprised by low-flying aircraft and the presence of National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) staff asking questions about their catch when they returned to their boat ramps.

They can expect the same next summer.

The Ministry of Fisheries is currently contracting NIWA to undertake a survey of recreational fishing in the Hauraki Gulf, using aerial surveys and boat ramp interviews of fishers in an attempt to establish how many people fish the Gulf and the size of their catches, so that they can estimate the size of the recreational fishing harvest, and, in particular, snapper.

Until April 2005, two aircraft will fly, on days chosen at random, from Cape Rodney to the tip of the Coromandel Peninsula. At the same time, researchers will survey boat ramps from Sandspit in the north to Te Kouma on the Coromandel, measuring fish and interviewing fishers.

"The method used, of flying over the area to count boats and then interviewing people when they return with their catch, is particularly suitable for the Hauraki Gulf, where fishing is contained, rather than dispersed over a wide area," says Ministry of Fisheries Principal Scientist Dr Peter Todd.

"Recreational fishing may have a big impact where the catch is high," he says. "It is important to determine the recreational harvest where it is large in relation to the commercial catch.

The east coast of the North Island, from Northland around to the eastern Bay of Plenty, is the most important marine recreational fishing area in New Zealand, where sheltered harbours and bays offer very good fishing, principally snapper.

Within easy reach of Auckland's large fishing population, the Hauraki Gulf is New Zealand's biggest snapper fishery.

"It is critical for fisheries management purposes to get the best information possible on what people catch and where, to assist in managing stocks to ensure sustainability and to make important decisions on allocations between stakeholder groups where this is necessary,' says Dr Todd. "We need as good estimates as we can get for snapper, where we have sophisticated models for stock assessment."

The current survey will be completed by the end of next summer, with the results analysed and presented to MFish by NIWA in December 2005.

Dr Todd hopes that if the technique proves successful, it may be used for various species in other parts of New Zealand.

ENDS

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