Proposed new restrictions on long-line fishing along Tauranga beaches have been challenged by recreational fisherman Tony Kinzett who argued there was no clear evidence of problems.
Kinzett was one of eight submitters who spoke to a council committee last week on the review of the Beaches Bylaw.
Appearing with wife Rox, he said the only new rules he supported were to police a maximum speed limit on motor vehicles using the beach and to exclude drones from the definition of aircraft.
But he opposed the introduction of controls on longline kontiki-styled fishing, saying his research had revealed that there was nothing to demonstrate that fishing on a beach was dangerous and caused a nuisance.
Quoting the Local Government Act, he said there was no clear evidence of a ''material reason or purpose'' to amend or introduce a new bylaw.
Kinzett's inquiries revealed that the primary issue for Pāpāmoa police had been vehicles being driven dangerously or at speed along the beach.
''I am led to believe that in general there are no real issues in regards to fishing.''
St John Ambulance told him there was nothing it was aware of, but it was checking its register for incidents on the beach.
A long-serving committee member of the Papamoa Surf Life Saving Club told Kinzett that in his 17 years with the club, he was not aware of any injuries caused by fishing.
''During patrols, we have had a few long lines crossing into the flags or along the beach where we have had swimmers. Obviously this could be a potential danger with hooks, but generally, the owners of long lines have respected us when we have asked them to bring them in.
"Common sense would tell you not to launch close to flags or populated areas of swimmers,'' the club member said in an email.
in an average season, there were maybe one or two incidents where kontikis floated into flagged areas, but lifeguards quickly sorted it out, the club member said.
The club's chairman confirmed to Kinzett that there were no real issues.
Kinzett concluded his inquiries by asking the council where and when fishing had risked public safety or caused a nuisance.
''In our opinion, minor issues do no warrant council imposing additional bylaws.''
He said it was the right of every person to have equal access, use and enjoyment of the beach.
''There are existing dedicated swimming-only areas allocated during the peak season. These allow for safe areas for all swimmers and are controlled by lifeguards.''
Kinzett said police had the power to manage public safety and the fishing bylaws were not in tune with residents and holidaymakers.
Peter Campbell, chairman of the fisheries management subcommittee of the New Zealand Sport Fishing Council, partly supported the fishing additions to the bylaw.
However, he drew attention to the section by which the council could, by resolution, prohibit or restrict fishing on all or part of the beach to ensure public safety and prevent nuisance.
Campbell said government and local authorities could restrict fishing and gathering kai moana, so Sport Fishing was acutely aware of the cumulative effect fishing restrictions had on members and the wider public.
''Clear evidence of a real problem is required before any new restriction is introduced. Closures to fishing on relatively remote parts of the beach are not warranted.''
He asked the council to clarify the resolution process and whether prohibitions or restrictions would be publicly advertised.
On the bylaw to prohibit people using all-terrain vehicles at speed or in a dangerous manner, he asked the council to define the wording ''which causes or might cause inconvenience to any person in the area''.
Campbell supported not allowing kontikis within 300m of a flagged swimming area but said fishing should be allowed after the flags had been removed provided public safety was taken into account.
Several submitters said operator inexperience was the main reason long lines drifted into areas where people were swimming.
Swimmers entering the water near where a fisher had launched a kontiki also caused problems.
And the fine for breaching vehicle safety rules on the beach has been reduced from $750 to $150 after it was revealed that the $750 fine had been a barrier to police enforcing the current bylaw.
Suggested code of practice for long-line fishers
- Maintain 500m clearance from the flagged swimming area.
- Minimum distance of 400m between long-line fishers.
- Respect other water users.
- Keep fishing gear near the water's edge.
- Maintain a watch on fishing gear to prevent line drift.
Source: New Zealand Sport Fishing