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Progress made toward lifting cod ban

Hon Phil Heatley
Minister of Fisheries

10 November 2009
Media Statement

Progress made toward lifting cod ban

Work toward lifting the ban on blue cod fishing in the Marlborough Sounds is progressing well, but the fishery will remain closed this summer, Fisheries Minister Phil Heatley announced today.

Pressure on the blue cod population led to a four year ban on fishing for the species in the Marlborough Sounds being put in place on 1 October 2008.

A group of local stakeholders has been working with the Ministry of Fisheries on a management plan that will rebuild the fishery while allowing for a managed recreational harvest.

“Advice from the group tells me good progress has been made towards a possible partial or full reopening of the fishery in the 2010/11 summer season,” Mr Heatley said.

New scientific research is under way that will inform the decision on when and how to reopen the fishery.

As announced in March, the Blue Cod Management Group is working toward delivering a plan that:

• will see the fishery opening sooner than the four years, either wholly or partially;
• is easy for fishers to understand, and practical for them to use;
• is straight forward for Ministry of Fisheries officers to police;
• requires some form of recreational catch reporting, so success can be monitored.

In the meantime the group has been developing other initiatives to secure a good future for the Marlborough blue cod fishery.

“I am pleased to announce that the group has released a code of practice for the fishery which advises fishers on how they can play their part in the fishery’s future.

“If this advice is followed, more small blue cod will be returned to the sea alive and will grow to spawn and provide fish for tomorrow,” Mr Heatley said.

To support the guide, responsible handling of fish will be an important part of the Ministry of Fisheries’ summer education programme.

The Ministry and the management group have also released a poster to guide fishers on the best practice when fishing in the Marlborough Sounds, in particular which hooks are best for catch-and-release practices. The poster will soon be available in fishing tackle stores and at campsites in the Marlborough Sounds.

“I would like to see the good fishing practices promoted by these guides adopted by all recreational fishers in the Marlborough Sounds,” Mr Heatley said.

The Minister reminded fishers that currently any blue cod accidentally caught in the closed area must be returned to the sea straight away. And blue cod caught outside the closed area, but landed in the Marlborough Sounds, must be landed whole or gutted.

For the code of practice, poster and more information on the Marlborough blue cod fishery, including a map of the closed area, visit
www.fish.govt.nz/en-nz/Recreational/Most+Popular+Species/Blue+Cod/default.htm

Anyone seeing suspicious activity in Marlborough or any other fishery should call 0800 4 POACHER (0800 476 224). Penalties for breaching the closure include fines up to $20,000 and forfeiture of boats and fishing gear.

ENDS

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