Submissions on fishery close today

The Fiordland Marine Guardians (FMG) expect a surge of submissions as the deadline for public consultation closes today on a review of the rules governing the Fiordland marine area.

FMG, a community management group, has issued a discussion document outlining how rules that have been in place since 2005 will be reviewed.

Covering a range of marine conservation issues including fish stock preservation, biodiversity and marine environment risk, as well as compliance and implementation concerns, the review aims to judge whether the 2005 rules are still appropriate by referring to the original document that led to the changes under the Fiordland (Te Moana o Atawhenua) Marine Management Act 2005.

FMG chairman Malcolm Lawson, of Cromwell, helped write the review document and said the group was "very conscious that it would have been easy once the [2005] rules and management regime were in place to forget about it at that stage and say the job's been done".

"We're very conscious [of making sure] the management regime remains relevant. Topics change, issues change and in that way, we need feedback from users and the public," Mr Lawson said.

The FMG review report speculates on the likely success of the 2005 management restructuring.

A biodiversity study last year showed "positive changes in the size, structure and abundance of key predatory and grazer species in Fiordland". Those were thought to be a direct result of the 2005 management changes, "most notably the creation of marine reserves and, to a lesser extent, the commercial exclusion zones", the report states.

The report recommends five-yearly physical, social and biological monitoring of the fiords to determine changes, as well as the examination of blue cod fisheries - a species the FMG had considered depleted in Milford and Doubtful sounds.

A range of options are being considered to prevent overfishing of blue cod and other species, including limits on slots, daily bags and fish size, boat checking, restrictions on fishing methods, closing certain areas, seasonal closures and restricted openings to "dampen the 'gold rush' effect which can happen after a fishery has been closed for some time and a sudden influx of fishers occurs when it is reopened".

Once submissions are received, the FMG will consult authorities such as Environment Southland, the Ministry of Fisheries and the Department of Conservation on how best to implement recommendations.



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