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Credible Research Vital to Sensibly Managing Fisheries

Credible Research Vital to Sensibly Managing Fisheries

Marlborough recreational fishers want urgent research into Marlborough Sounds blue cod spawning so the fishery can be soundly and accurately managed.

"Knowledge of the population dynamics of individual saltwater fish species is vital to implementing sound and effective management of the sea fisheries,” said Peter Watson, president Marlborough Recreational Fishers Association and a former commercial fisherman.

The Marlborough Sounds blue cod fishery and rules implemented by the Ministry of Primary Industries that discriminated against the recreational public have been a hotbed of controversy since Labour’s fishery minister Jim Anderton put a ban on recreational fishing in 2007.

“The original research Anderton made his decision on was poorly done and poorly timed,” said Peter Watson.

The NIWA survey was carried out in September when long time commercial fishers say blue cod move from the Sounds to Marlborough’s east coast to spawn.

“So they did their poorly sited cod potting samples, when mature cod had moved out. Thus it showed a lack of good mature fish. It was a false picture."

Peter Watson said that in ten years the Ministry had done little if any credible research. Attempts by the Marlborough Recreational Fishers Assn., to talk to the National-led government’s succession of fisheries ministers were met with procrastination and delays in getting appointments and then except for the first minister Phil Heatley, with indifference.

“So-called management has been based on guesswork and not knowledge and facts,” said Peter Watson.

In the ten years the Ministry and Ministers Carter and Guy introduced a slot rule where only cod in the 30-35cm range could be taken by recreational fishers.

“It was a disaster and resulted in deaths of thousands of cod that had to be released and forced anglers to kill breeding females that are invariably in the 30-35cm range. It was irresponsible management,” he said.

Currently a ban on all blue cod fishing - except for customary - for the Marlborough Sounds now applied to the months of September to December 20. The months of August and September and perhaps to October 20 would make much, more sense, for a closure, unless credible research defines exactly when and where blue cod spawn said Peter Watson.

"And if they do spawn off the east coast and not in the Sounds then is a ban for the Sounds justified at all?”

He said the local economy was suffering with heavy handed unnecessary restrictions on recreational blue cod and the dire state of the scallop fishery due to corporate company plundering of beds.

The association was a strong advocate for conservation of stocks and an eye to tomorrow. A closed season August to October 20 - until sound, credible research gives that vital knowledge - should remain.

"The history that in ten long years, the Ministry has no significant greater knowledge is an indictment of the mismanagement, not deliberately necessarily but out of ignorance of facts,” he added.

The association was optimistic that with a new government, a new minister of fisheries in Labour’s Stuart Nash and the recently announced decision to reinstate the Ministry of Fisheries from the mega MPI bureaucracy, would result in a new ministry culture and a willingness to do urgent research.


ENDS


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