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Tis the Season for Fish Aggregation

15 December 2010

The Ministry of Fisheries today reported an example of what can happen during the season of what is known as “fish aggregation”, when fish move close to shore to spawn.

On the morning of Tuesday 13 December the Ministry learned that a commercial fishing net was drifting about 2.5 nautical miles south of Kawau Island in the Hauraki Gulf.

Initial reports indicated that the net contained a considerable quantity of fish and that the surrounding area was littered with floating fish, mainly snapper. The fish trail appeared to be about three kilometres in length.

A Ministry patrol vessel was despatched to locate the net. The New Zealand Defence Force, in the area for an exercise, was contacted and HMNZS Hawea was sent to help locate the net, as was a Seasprite helicopter of RNZAF 6 Squadron.

A RNZAF Orion also became involved in the search. Orion crew took photographs of the floating fish.

HMNZS Hawea located the net and directed the Ministry of Fisheries patrol vessel to it. Once the net was located, it was noted that the net and the fish in it were too heavy for the Hawea to lift and HMNZS Manawanui was directed to assist.

At approximately 5 pm, HMNZS Manawanui recovered the net and a considerable quantity of fish, mainly snapper. The net was returned to Auckland.

Greg Keys, Ministry of Fisheries Field Operations Manager, said enquiries are continuing into the reasons for the find.

“At this time of year, snapper can be found in large concentrations relatively close to the shore,” he said. “This follows a recent find of snapper off the Northland coast, which turned out to be from a commercial vessel,” Mr Keys said. “The Ministry encourages fishers who find floating fish – whether alive or dead - to record the location, time/date and species, and where possible obtain a sample and call 0800 4 POACHER (0800 476 224).”

Mr Keys said this was a good example of the agencies involved in marine patrols working together effectively.

ENDS

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