My love of fishing and diving started when I was just a kid. I can clearly remember my first night fishing mission off Long Bay Beach when I was 13. A friend and I lugged all our fishing and sleeping gear around the rocks, threw out some lines and hoped for the best. Not even the lack of comfort or freezing temperature dissuaded me. I was hooked.
We’d almost always catch our limit back then, but twenty years on and it’s definitely not like it was. Now it seems like every time I visit a ‘spot x’ from my childhood it’s pretty barren. I worry that when my kids grow up fish numbers will be almost non-existent and the ecosystem will be damaged beyond repair. I worry that they’ll look back on these days and reminisce about how plentiful the fish and shellfish were. Much like I do now.
The recreational fishers I know are as passionate about fish stock as I am. We all follow the fishing rules set out by MPI. But we’re increasingly frustrated with how fish stock has been mismanaged by authorities and how destructive commercial fishing practices are allowed to continue.
The QMS (Quota Management System) came into effect back in 1986 as a means to stop overfishing, by setting catch limits for every fish species. While the intention might have been good, it’s fair to say it’s not really working as it should. The fish stock is not effectively protected, with a number of species declining at an alarming rate, such as Tarakihi, North Island crayfish and East Coast Snapper in the SNA1 area. Unfortunately decisions are being made on total allowable catch limits with no supporting evidence of just how depleted the fish stock is.
What’s more, the methods used by commercial fishing boats, like bottom trawling and dredging, are very destructive to fragile ecosystems. These commercial operations are also getting away with dumping a huge amount of by-catch and destruction of threatened marine mammals like dolphins, without any prosecution from MPI.
Under the QMS we’re effectively giving away our fish resource to a few big companies, who lease the quota out to hard-working fishermen. That’s a resource that we as kiwis are entitled to and they’re getting it absolutely free for huge commercial gain. This current system benefits the few big companies (and their shareholders) at the top of the chain who own the quota. It doesn’t benefit everyday kiwis, hard-working fishermen and the once-thriving coastal fishing communities.
We’re passionate about ensuring our children and grandchildren can fish like we once did. That’s why we’re supporting LegaSea and the fantastic work they do in raising the profile of issues affecting fish stock. Their mission is to restore New Zealand’s coastal fisheries, which is a cause we’re keen to get behind.
LegaSea are proposing a new framework to replace the QMS which aims to replenish fish numbers for all New Zealanders. You can find out more about this proposal and sign the petition here.