I'm sure even the most casual fisher will be alarmed at news snapper stocks in the Bay of Plenty are predicted to collapse if steps are not taken to reduce fishing pressure.



On Saturday we reported Labour leader David Shearer was shocked at the report that fish stocks were predicted to decline steadily toward levels that were below 10 per cent of the original size of the fishery. Once it dropped below the 10 per cent threshold, he said, that was an indicator the stock had collapsed.



A Ministry for Primary Industries report said snapper stocks in the Bay of Plenty/Hauraki Gulf fishery were 19 per cent of original stocks but could drop to below 10 per cent, based on scenarios in which the existing total allowable fish continued.



It is important that snapper stocks are not overfished and are given time to recover, but one option is unfairly weighted against recreational fishers.

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The Government proposes to lower the daily bag limit from nine snapper per person to just three but with no corresponding cut for commercial fishers. This is unfair. Surely, given the dire forecasts, restrictions on commercial fishers should also be considered. Recreational fishermen should not be shouldered with the burden alone.



A spokesman for Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy said there was a wide range of options, which included cutting the catch limit for commercial fishers. I hope the Government chooses an option that places responsibility on each sector to ensure fish stocks are not placed under so much pressure it becomes unsustainable.