Tauranga's recreational fishers are willing to go the extra mile to preserve snapper as long as their conservation efforts are not thwarted by commercial operations.
About 250 people attended a public meeting in Tauranga held by LegaSea, the fundraising and advocacy arm of the NZ Sports Fishing Council, about the snapper management options released for consultation by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).
Applause rang out as LegaSea spokesperson Scott Macindoe told the crowd the organisation was willing to look at ways for recreational fishers to help conserve snapper for future generations but not if commercial fishers were allowed to catch and export more.
"This is not about sustainability. This is about sovereignty. This is about who owns the fish," he said.
Mount Maunganui man and LegaSea member Adam El-Agez told the gathering the Bay of Plenty was the only part of the area in question, which also included East Northland and the Hauraki Gulf, where the fishery was in trouble.
MPI figures supplied to the Bay of Plenty Times showed snapper numbers in the Bay of Plenty/Hauraki Gulf were at 19 per cent of the original size.
Go to www.legasea.co.nz to make a submission on the MPI proposal.
Restriction sought to save snapper
Tauranga fisherman Marcus Turner said restrictions on trawling were needed in the Bay of Plenty to combat the desperately low snapper levels.
Mr Turner, who fishes at least once a week, said the lack of fish was noticeable.
"What we actually need to be doing is looking at some constructive ways to forget about quotas."
Mr Turner said he was not opposed to commercial fishing but believed it needed more controls. Most recreational fishers had self-imposed limits to help keep fishing sustainable but commercial fishing negated that, he said.
" There's got to be some restrictions on commercial fishing, not just in nursery areas."
Trawling should be banned from Bowentown out to Mayor Island, to White Island and in to Whakatane for the next five years to see what improvement was made, he said.