No less than three years after we began investigating concerns of over-fishing in the Fiordland (Te Moana o Atawhenua) Marine Area, we are pleased to announce new recreational fishing rules for the Fiordland Marine Area (FMA).
The Guardians’ recommendations to the Minister of Oceans and Fisheries followed a 2022 review where feedback showed strong support for further changes to rules to help protect the area from increased fishing pressure, particularly around the fiord entrances.
The Minister for Oceans and Fisheries, Hon Rachel Brooking, recently approved our recommendations following public consultation. We would like to thank those who assisted with our review and critical analysis of our proposal by participating in workshops, attending public hui, contacting us directly and making written submissions during the consultation process. We learnt a lot during the process, and believe the final result is stronger than our initial proposal thanks to the constructive feedback we received.
In brief the changes will:
- reduce daily species and bag limits for many finfish and shellfish species within the fiords
- introduce a Fishing Line at the entrance of each fiord to reduce the pressure on species in the fiord entrances and encourage fishing on the outer coast
- close the oyster and scallop fisheries in Fiordland
Most of the changes are expected to be in place for the coming summer.
Without doubt, the most feedback we received related to rock lobster/koura. We took this feedback on board and as a result there will be no change to the amateur fishing rules for lobster/koura.
We recommended that recreational reporting become mandatory for the FMA based on the strong support that was expressed for mandatory recreational reporting of catch. Whilst not accepting this recommendation, the Minister has encouraged us to promote voluntary use of the Mainland Catch app (developed by Fish Mainland Inc.). We ask that you download this app and start recording your catch. The data will support our future review of the effectiveness of these new rules in improving sustainability of key stocks.
During the consultation process a couple of ideas were proposed that the Guardians consider to have merit. In particular there was feedback that there should be restrictions on ‘bulk’ harvesting methods such as cod potting, longlining, and set-lining by both recreational and commercial fishers inside the new Fishing Line. Submitters also raised concerns about the potential for vessels with large fishing parties onboard to contribute to localised depletion of fish stocks. The introduction of boat limits (a limit on the total number of fish and shellfish taken per vessel) was proposed as a way to reduce this risk.
We consider there is a need for focused discussion on these two proposals and the Minister agrees, having instructed Fisheries New Zealand to go out for further consultation. The proposals in full and details on how to make a submissions can be found on the Fisheries New Zealand website. The consultation period has just begun, and will close on Monday 28 August. We encourage anyone with an interest (recreational or commercial) to provide feedback on the proposals.
We hope to see you at The Rock Southland Boat Show, in Invercargill over the weekend of August 12-13. This is a great opportunity to chat with us about the new rules and the proposed gear restrictions and boat limits. You can find us close to the Harbour Master's vessel.