Isaac Davison is a NZ Herald political reporter.

Snapper quota plan puts heat on coast MPs

Fisheries Minister under fire as politicians express recreational fishers' opposition

Fisheries Minister Nathan Guy. Photo / Paul Tay
Fisheries Minister Nathan Guy. Photo / Paul Tay

Proposed cuts to recreational snapper quotas have hit a nerve with politicians on both sides of the House as electorate MPs in fishing hotspots come under pressure for meddling with fishers' bag limits.

Fisheries Minister Nathan Guy was grilled at Parliament yesterday over possible restrictions on the recreational fishery which were designed to help rebuild the depleted Snapper 1 fishery from Northland to Bay of Plenty.

United Future leader Peter Dunne said the proposals were absurd while independent MP Brendan Horan compared the rules to that of a police state.

Labour fisheries spokesman David Cunliffe claimed tens of thousands of New Zealanders were outraged by the proposals because snapper stocks were healthy outside Bay of Plenty and because the proposals did not include a cut to the commercial take.

New Zealand First MP Richard Prosser pointed to the 450 tonnes of snapper which was dumped annually by commercial fisheries and the exporting of snapper which would be considered, if caught by recreational fishers, to be undersize.

Mr Guy stressed that the proposals were still in the consultation phase.

Options included either a lower total recreation catch or controls on recreation catch. The controls range from cutting the bag limit to three, raising the minimum legal size to 36cm, or a combination of the two. The minister could go beyond these options in his final decision, which would come into force on October 1.

Public meetings on the proposed changes have attracted large crowds at Thames, Whakatane and Tauranga, putting pressure on the National MPs in those regions.

Coromandel MP Scott Simpson said he was opposed to a change.

"I ... would like to see some more evidence before a decision is made."

Rodney MP Mark Mitchell said if there was going to be change to snapper quotas, it should be shared between recreational and commercial fisheries. "... a lot of my friends, my family, it would be very, very rare that they would be catching the bag limit."

- NZ Herald

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