Editorial: Snapper catch limit essential

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Reported snapper numbers in the Hauraki Gulf and Northland coastal waters to be down to about 24 per cent of the stock that would exist if the species was not fished.
Reported snapper numbers in the Hauraki Gulf and Northland coastal waters to be down to about 24 per cent of the stock that would exist if the species was not fished.

Tauranga recreational fishers have so far adopted a pragmatic view of the Government cutting the snapper catch limit from nine to seven per day.

Their acceptance of the changes is at odds with those in other regions who feel recreational fishers are the only ones losing out in the reforms.

Those opposed to the changes do have a point. Commercial fishers have not seen a similar cut to their catch rate. However, it is hard to argue seven fish a day is not a generous allowance.

The positive reaction from fishers in this region could reflect awareness that the Bay snapper fishery is in bad shape and has been for some time.

Reported snapper numbers in the Hauraki Gulf and Northland coastal waters to be down to about 24 per cent of the stock that would exist if the species was not fished.

In the Bay of Plenty, the level is much worse - below the 10 per cent at which the stock is said to have collapsed and the fishery would be closed.

Cutting the recreational catch rate for snapper to three a day was one of the options considered by Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy but he stepped back from this after it outraged fishers across the country.

The commercial fishing industry should also take a cut to help it recover further.

The catch-limit debate highlighted concerns about illegal dumping in the commercial sector and on board cameras, observers and GPS tracing are to be introduced to combat this and monitor the number of juvenile fish (under 25cm) being caught in nets.

The changes are needed and, while perhaps not going far enough, may help to protect snapper stocks in the future.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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