Rebecca Dickson and Ethan Wilson try their luck yesterday in the Steamer Basin, one of the few spots in Otago Harbour not affected by a mataitai application. Photo by Stephen Jaquiery.
Recreational anglers are being urged to stand up for their
right to fish how and where they want in Otago Harbour.
The call by recreational fishing representative Warren Lewis
comes as an amended proposal for a mataitai (a customary
fishing reserve) for Otago Harbour is put out for
It follows an application - first made in 2008 covering the
majority of the harbour - which had been in limbo at the
Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) since consultation was
completed in 2009.
MPI spatial allocations manager David Scranney said the delay
was due to the ministry approving Southern Clams' application
for research trials on commercial cockle harvesting in the
The amended application, lodged in March by Te Runanga o
Otakou, excludes the two areas from where Southern Clams
harvests clams, as well as the original six areas listed,
including the Steamer Wharf and Careys Bay, which allow for
commercial fishing activity.
Runanga mataitai committee chairman Tangi Russell, who is
also the MPI-appointed tangata tiaki or caretaker of the
harbour, said recreational anglers had nothing to fear from
''We are not out to stop any recreational fishing in the
harbour at all.''
All the runanga wanted to do was preserve the harbour as it
was and manage the fishery ''the best we can according to our
Mr Lewis, who represented recreational anglers on a
consultative group regarding the Moeraki mataitai, warned the
methods used by anglers to fish, such as set netting, and how
many fish they could catch in the harbour could be under
''This is what could happen if the recreational sector does
not get off their backside. The endangered species could be
the recreational fisherman.''
Recreational fishing could not be banned under a mataitai, as
commercial fishing could, but it did allow for bylaws to be
made that could restrict catches and methods of fishing.
He was ''fearful'' the value of the harbour's recreational
fishery would not be recognised as fishing groups had not
been informed of the amended application or consulted as they
had been when it was originally proposed in 2008.
They now only had a month to make a submission.
New Zealand Salmon Anglers' Association Otago branch chairman
Wayne Olsen said a mataitai could be a good thing for the
harbour, as long as there was no intention to take control of
''It [the salmon fishery] is to be accessed freely by the
He hoped the group would be consulted and it would certainly
put its view at any meetings that were being held.
The 2008 Otakou runanga application was opposed by four out
of five submitters, mostly commercial fishing groups.
Southern Clams operations manager Dave Redshaw said because
the company had only received notification of the amendment
on Friday, it had not had time to thoroughly research its
implications, especially on possible future uses of the
''Initially, we are pleased they've taken into account our
work and operations in the harbour.''
It was ''early days'' and the company hoped there would be
meetings or consultation to allow those issues to be
discussed, he said.
In principle, the company supported a mataitai, but wanted to
ensure it allowed future use of the harbour.
Port Chalmers Fishing Co-operative president Ant Smith said
while supportive of sustainable fishing, the co-operative did
not back the last application because of its restrictions on
It had yet to see the amended application, but if it allowed
for specific commercial fishing endeavours and the general
public supported it, the co-operative probably would, too, he
The only other mataitai in Otago covered an area around the
MPI could not comment on the consultation process yesterday.
Submissions to MPI close on July 28.
• An identified traditional fishing ground established for
the purpose of customary food gathering.
• Will exclude commercial fishing within its boundaries.
• Will not exclude recreational fishing.
• Will not require recreational fishers to obtain permits or
prevent non-Maori from fishing.
• Will not prevent access to beaches or rivers not on private
• Allows for bylaws to be recommended to MPI relating to the
species of fish, aquatic life, or seaweed that may be taken,
the quantity, areas and method.
Source: Ministry of Fisheries