A call to restock fish numbers has been welcomed by the Hawke's Bay Regional Council, with claims almost three times more fish are being taken out of our waters than reported.
The plea was made by former MP and regional councillor Neil Kirton, who slammed the council's regional coastal environment plan. It comes in the wake of a report that found the total amount of marine fish caught in New Zealand waters between 1950 and 2010 was 2.7 times more than official statistics suggest.
Mr Kirton said the regional council's policy was "inadequate for protecting the environment".
"It is simply drawing some lines on a map and calling that protecting our environment."
He claimed there was a lot of scope for local action to protect the marine environment.
"If we have a comprehensive approach and the regional council gets its act together and focuses on things other than dams we might be able to go forward around our coastal environment," he said.
Council chairman Fenton Wilson said while he agreed with the call to restock fish, it might be hasty just to blame the regional council.
"I do agree with him on one thing, that fishery discussion needs to be broader than just MPI [Ministry for Primary Industies] and a few commercial guys," he said.
With the recent report on New Zealand's fishing catches, maybe now was the time to have the discussion, Mr Kirton said
Talking to members of the local non-commercial fishing fraternity, he said, the ability to go out and catch fish was being compromised all the time.
That led him to initiate the campaign "Put more Fish in the Bay".
"Both our local authorities and the public can help rebuild our regional fisheries," he said.
Council's environment and services committee chairman Councillor Rex Graham said he would support such a campaign.
"It is a discussion which the regional council needs to have and the community needs to have," he said.
Mr Wilson said while the council had to work within constraints on such issues, he emphasised it did not hide behind the processes.
"The processes have to evolve and have to be fit for purpose as things change - and we live in a changing world and changing environment," he said.
"So I share his concern for the fishery, being a recreational fisher myself, but it is a bigger conversation than just the regional council."