Snapper bag limits in the country's most popular fishery will
be reduced from nine to seven, and the minimum legal size
increased from 27cms to 30cms from April 1 next year.
Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy announcing his
decision on management of the Snapper 1 fishery this
He briefed recreational and commercial fishing
representatives ahead of the announcement.
Sport Fishing Council past president Richard Baker said
afterwards the recreational allowance of 2600 tonnes would
increase to 3100 tonnes, but this was still below the current
actual recreational catch.
"They are playing with paper fish.
"This decision is adverse to the public interest."
Trish Rea, a spokeswoman for Legasea - which represents
recreational fishers - said the changes would hurt mum and
dad fishers who fished in inshore areas where 50 per cent of
fish caught were below 30cms.
Mr Guy said there were a range of options that went out in
the consultation document, and a broad range of views were
received on those. "I said that a bag limit reduction to
three was an extreme option and highly unlikely.
"It's great to have the feedback from those submitters, that
gave us a very clear view that they value this fishery. A lot
of the submitters also mentioned that they wanted to ensure
that this fishery is sustainable for our future generations
"There's a range of measures that means the commercial sector
are going to have to lift their socks up," he said, adding
that the sector "are going to find things are going to
The measures include tackling illegal dumping and wastage,
monitoring fish catches and installing cameras and GPS
tracking devices on all commercial fishing vessels to
effectively watch everything fishers do on board.
Asked if he considered reducing the commercial sector
allocation, Mr Guy said: "I considered all sorts of options
from the advice that I had. I had all sorts of options to
"I have landed a package that's going to ensure Kiwis can
still go out and catch seven snapper. We're going to deal to
the illegal dumping to do with the commercial fleet, we have
a range of measures to know where they're fishing and it's
going to be clearer reporting on the smaller fish that's
occurring in the commercial fleet."
He also announced a programme looking at new ways to catch
fish, in a "better state".
Mr Guy said the increased allocation of 500 tonnes to
recreational fishers had "gone down very, very well with
"Mums and dads are going to be very pleased to know they're
still able to catch seven snapper a day."
Facing a barrage of questions from media Mr Guy continued to
repeat the new laws would ensure the future sustainability of
the snapper stock in this area, given the forecast human
population growth and expected rise in recreational fishing.
However, he conceded that the new limits on number and size
of snapper catch would ultimately reduce the amount of
snapper landed recreationally.
"It will bring the average down so it will allow the
population to continue to grow," he said.
"If we hadn't made these changes now with the [human]
population that's forecast to grow in this particular area,
the stock wouldn't rebuild into a state that we want it to be
in, and we wouldn't want to be in a situation that we were in
a few years ago in the blue cod fishery in the Marlborough
Sounds, where it had to be closed and then reopened, and the
current limits are two, with still some restrictions."
Mr Guy described fishers in the snapper 1 area as "very
- By Geoff Cumming of the NZ Herald