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Hawkes Bay Fishing Crews Catching 'Masses' Of Porcupinefish

Sally Murphy, Reporter

In what's being described as an odd side effect of Cyclone Gabrielle, fishing crews in Hawkes Bay are catching thousands of porcupinefish.

Rick Burch who's been fishing in the Bay since 1987 said before the cyclone he would catch the odd porcupinefish but nothing like the volume he is dealing with now.

"In Hawkes Bay and surrounding areas the number of porcupinefish has increased massively. On my last trip, which consisted of ten trawl tows, we caught 773 kilos of them."

Birch said the fish are not sold or eaten so they are all thrown back overboard - which takes time.

"No one really knows why there's so many, but we think it is something to do with the cyclone," he said.

"It could be to do with the amount of logs that are in the bay. They could be using them for protection, or they could be feeding on the logs - they're not like normal fish, their teeth structure is different.

"But we're really not sure why there's so many - there's masses of them."

Rick Burch said despite the porcupinefish - the fishery and its stocks in the Bay are healthy.

However Birch is concerned about the long-term impact any chemicals and silt washed into the ocean during the cyclone will have.

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