Local fisherman want trawlers to be banned to allow local fish numbers to replenish.

A group formed to represent recreational fishers says not enough is being done to reduce the number of fish killed in Hawke Bay.

LegaSea Hawke's Bay spokesman Brian Firman said it was time commercial fishers took their "indiscriminate, bulk harvesting methods" out of the Bay.

The group initially pushed for a trawling ban in waters less than 100m deep, but now wanted no trawlers inside the 50 metre contour to make a meaningful difference to recreational fishing.

Advertisement

"Our research over the past decade shows there has been a dramatic fall in recreational catch rates for popular species including gurnard, tarakihi, snapper and groper. We desperately need to restore local fisheries but we cannot achieve a rebuild on our own because with our current average catch rate, reducing the recreational daily bag limit will achieve nothing."

Fisheries Inshore New Zealand chief executive Dr Jeremy Helson said he couldn't agree more about the need to ensure that the Bay's fisheries are healthy. But he disputed the need for a blanket ban on trawling out to 50m in the Bay.

Mr Helson said the call from LegaSea through the media was "left field".

"We believed we were constructively involved in dialogue and action with them and the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) to find ways to improve fisheries in the Bay for all to enjoy."

After a public meeting in October 2014 the MPI organised joint sector meetings, between commercial and recreational interests, to set measures to improve recreational fishing.

Napier recreational fisherman Wayne Bicknell said although ministry and commercial interests said they were at the table to help, any offerings to date did not include killing one less fish.

"It has been very frustrating that the Ministry won't accept there is a sustainability issue, they merely describe our situation as "local area depletion," he said.

"For our fisheries to rebuild we need to back off for a while. It's a simple formula, kill less fish and shift the damaging trawling method further offshore."

Mr Helson said a ban on commercial trawling would have a significant social and economic impact in the Bay.

Data from the MPI show that local commercial catches are important to local business, on average the top six species alone are estimated to generate $3.4 million each year, Mr Helson said.

"Putting local fishers out of work and adding financial pressure to local families and business is a high price to pay, particularly when we consider it is unnecessary because there is a better solution well underway that has included views from both recreational and commercial interests."

Commercial fishers have already committed to and begun to action measures to reduce their catch in the Bay that will improve the recreational fishing experience.

Even though discussions were still proceeding, Mr Helson said industry over the summer just passed a two-year trial to reduce commercial fishing efforts in areas of importance identified by recreational fishers.

Director of fisheries management Dave Turner said MPI was committed to working with all sectors to resolve long-standing concerns about local fish abundance.

He understood that Legasea were frustrated at the process, but resolving the issues took time.

MPI had made "significant progress" and a number of ideas had been put on the table including putting commercial fishing restrictions in an area covering the freshwater springs and within a line from Cape Kidnappers to the southern corner of the Wairoa Hard.

Commercial conservation measures for hapuku and bass on the Lachlan Banks and Ridge had been suggested along with trialling new trawl gear types that fish within Hawke Bay to reduce the catch of small and unwanted fish.

"These are hard conversations to have, and getting to an agreement will take time and concessions from all parties. But we are willing to put in the work, because at the end of the day, we all want the same thing - enough fish in the water for current and future generations," Mr Turner said.

The Hawke's Bay Regional Council is also involved in a project to gain a better understanding of the marine habitat in the wider Bay area.