Geoff Thomas

Geoff Thomas on fishing

Geoff Thomas: Give young snapper rejects chance at life

By Geoff Thomas

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Fish should not be removed from the water if you intend to release them.

Fish should not be removed from the water if you intend to release them.
Fish should not be removed from the water if you intend to release them.

Some billboard messages aimed at politicians over the snapper furore have been rejected as "too political".

The campaign was the brainchild of a group of senior advertising executives who, being keen anglers, were concerned at the proposed cuts to the recreational snapper catch.

"While there has been a huge response from the angling fraternity to the Ministry of Primary Industries, we wanted to take the message directly to the politicians," said a spokesman for the group.

They came up with some clever ads for billboards at Wellington Airport. But the airport authority refused to allow the slogans to be displayed on electronic billboards because they were deemed too political.

"This is a major public concern and this advertising block by the airport authority may well be viewed as a restraint on the freedom of speech," said the group's spokesman.

The ads said: "One million angry fishermen. One million votes. We also cast votes. Two terms. How's that for a bag limit, John? Fish have teeth. Fishermen have votes. Fishing is a right. Our vote is a privilege."

One of the topics that has come under the spotlight in the debate is the question of dead or dying snapper being returned to the water.

The official estimate of commercial wastage is 450 tonnes, which is basically a figure plucked from the air as it is exactly 10 per cent of the total commercial catch in the Snapper 1 management area.

Suggestions from knowledgeable sources place the actual wastage at many times that figure.

Whatever it is, the time has surely come to address the practices that lead to extensive waste. Modern techniques and technology can make fishing methods more efficient.

But it is not just the commercial fishermen who kill unwanted fish. When weekend anglers go out and catch large numbers of juvenile snapper, as happens throughout summer as the popular fishing grounds are nurseries for young fish, a percentage of those thrown back will die.

The key word here is "thrown". Fish don't have wings. In fact, fish are not designed to survive out of water. This may appear to be stating the obvious, but other factors come into play that anglers probably do not realise.

For example, a snapper's eyes are not designed to cope with direct sunlight. Holding a fish in the bright glare to admire it does not help.

And their bodies are not designed to support internal organs without the surrounding pressure of water - a fish held up by the head can be damaged internally without the person realising it.

The key is to support its body with your forearm. Everybody knows that the coating of slime on the skin is there as a barrier against infections, and fish can suffer from harmful bacteria just as we can. The answer is to never use dry hands, but grasp the fish with a wet rag or gloves.

If one is really concerned about fish that have been caught, they should never be removed from the water. A pair of long-nosed pliers can flick out a hook while the fish is lying on the surface. Using circle hooks also helps, as they hook in the corner of the mouth and are rarely swallowed.

Bite times

Bite times are 8am and 8.25pm today, and tomorrow at 8.50am and 2.10pm. These are based on the moon phase and position, not tides, so apply to the whole country.

Tip of the week

As the old saying goes: Limit your catch, don't catch your limit.

More fishing action can be found on Rheem Outdoors with Geoff, 5pm Saturdays, TV3, and at www.GTTackle.co.nz

- NZ Herald

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