Feedback is being sought on a raft of proposed bylaws aimed at protecting freshwater fish species and Te Arawa fishing practices.

The Ministry for Primary Industries is consulting on five bylaws, covering 13 lakes, proposed by Te Arawa Lakes Trust fisheries committee.

The bylaws would class tuna, inanga, kakahi, koaro, koura, and morihana as treasured fish species.

According to the proposal document, the bylaws had been developed over several years based on hui with Te Arawa iwi members and research undertaken by Niwa and others within Te Arawa Lakes.

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"The research results indicated low stocks of nga taonga ika, and in some cases rare relic populations survive in small numbers," the proposal document said.

The bylaws would cover lakes such as Rotorua, Tarawera, Rotoiti and RotomańĀ.

The streams and rivers flowing into the lakes are excluded, as is Lake Rotokakahi.

The bylaws also place restrictions on the amount of the species to be harvested, and the size and methods to be used for harvesting.

"As part of the management plan for nga taonga ika, the proposed bylaws will assist Te
Arawa Lakes Trust in sustaining fisheries resources whilst also protecting those fisheries which are in decline within Te Arawa Lakes," the proposal states.

"Management practices consistent with kaitiakitanga, tikanga and kawa of Te Arawa, will ensure these fisheries for future generations, whilst providing for customary and cultural
practices of Te Arawa."

Submissions must be made by Friday, March 16 to Te Arawa Lakes Trust.

Once Te Arawa Lakes Trust has considered any submissions, it will finalise the proposed bylaws and then ask for approval from the Minister of Fisheries.

The minister must determine whether to approve or to reject the proposed bylaws.

Proposed bylaws

Bylaw 1: Closure of koaro
This bylaw ensures the survival of remaining relic stocks of koaro through a total closure of this stock. Any koaro caught accidentally must be returned immediately to the lake.

Bylaw 2: Return of accidentally caught nga taonga ika
Nga taonga ika species that are caught accidentally are to be returned immediately to the lake. This bylaw will ensure that when fish species are accidentally caught, they can be returned to the lake for future generations and support rebuild of any closed fishery.

Bylaw 3: Restrictions on harvesting of tuna, kakahi, koura, inanga and morihana
This is to ensure the sustainable utilisation of these fish species and limits access to these fisheries, the amount to be harvested, size and methods used for harvesting.

Bylaw 4: Total ban on use of scuba when harvesting nga taonga ika
The use of self-contained underwater breathing apparatus (scuba) is not to be used to harvest nga taonga ika, this will ensure access to stocks by retaining traditional and customary fishing methods consistent with kaitiakitanga, tikanga and kawa of Te Arawa.

Bylaw 5: Ko Te Arawa anake e kato nga kai kei nga moana o Te Arawa
This bylaw will ensure that only Te Arawa iwi will have access to nga taonga kai (tuna, inanga, kakahi, koaro, koura, morihana) for customary and cultural purposes, and manage the fishery consistent with Te Arawa tikanga and kawa.