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Mfish Reminder About Safe Set Net Practice

Mfish Reminder About Safe Set Net Practice

The Ministry of Fisheries is reminding the public about the safe use of set nets, following the recent deaths in Tasman Bay of two dusky dolphins in a recreational set net, and the puzzling occurrence of a seal and a shark being found on the beach tied together with a piece of rope

"We are concerned that some members of the public may have become a bit rusty about some of the key points of the set netting fishing rules and the code of practice," said Kim Drummond, Senior Fisheries Management Advisor. "We urge recreational fishers to reacquaint themselves with this essential information."

"Poor netting practices can cause fish wastage, the bycatch of unwanted fish species, and, on occasions, a catch of seabirds or marine mammals. Net s can also become lost or abandoned, and continue to fish, But these problems can usually be avoided. "

Mr Drummond said it was essential that members of the public knew they would break the law if they set more than one set net, which must not exceed 60 metres in length.

Set nets must not extend across more than one-quarter the width of any river, stream, channel, bay or sound, be set in a way which caused fish to be stranded by the falling tide, or be set within 60 metres of another net. Stakes should not be used to secure a net, and bait must not be used. Each end of a set net must have a surface float marked with the fisher's initials and surname.

Mr Drummond said it was best to use the shortest net and largest mesh practical, as larger meshes allowed small juvenile fish and non-target species to escape more easily.

Short nets were easier to recover and, if properly set, could be effective in catching fish, and help ensure fishers stayed within the bag limit.

Mr Drummond urged fishers to stay near their nets, and check it at frequent intervals, which made it easier to respond quickly to changing conditions, particularly important when deteriorating weather conditions made it difficult to retrieve the net.

In general, nets should be removed entirely after the shortest practicable soak time (three to four hours), reducing the possibility of damage or waste to the fish caught, and of being caught out by the weather.

Unwanted or undersized fish and any birds or marine mammals had a better chance of remaining alive and unharmed if were released carefully, soon after they were caught. Fishers should avoid set netting overnight, especially in areas where it was difficult to retrieve a net if conditions deteriorate. There was a much greater risk of the loss of nets and fish wastage during overnight setting because of the long fishing times involved.

Mr Drummond also encouraged fishers to avoid using a set net in an area where any marine mammal was observed, and to remove the net if a marine mammal turned up.

He said fishers should watch out for lost nets which, in some circumstances, continue to fish for an extended period.

Fishers should try to recover a lost net by grappling for it with an anchor, but if they were unsuccessful, should take bearings to remember the location, or drop an anchor buoy to accurately mark the spot, then inform their local Ministry of Fisheries office about the location of the lost net. Fishers should not dive on the net themselves as this could be very dangerous.

Mr Drummond said that if fishers followed the simple set net rules and the Code of Practice they would lessen the chance of accidentally catching a dolphin or seal within a set net.

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