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Trout Fishing, Sea anglers and marine reserves

Maurice Rodway

Column for January 14 2005

Freshwater anglers have many issues to worry about, even when it is not flooding. Anglers who pursue sea fish have few concerns with cows or deer in creeks or being able to get access to the resource. Land development that sends muddy torrents downstream after a downpour may fill the homes of trout with mud but it doesn't affect the blue cod around Stewart Island or a snapper a kilometre out to sea in the Bay of Islands at the moment.

This may be an issue for the future but currently sea anglers are more worried about the creation of marine reserves where no fishing will be allowed. Angers groups appear to be opposed to proposals to create these reserves. Proponents say there is over 30% of the land area of New Zealand in reserves and all they want is to get 10% of the sea area in reserve too.

Anglers say it is their right to catch fish to eat and they shouldn't be denied that.

Marine anglers have large bag limits for most fish, for example 30 per day for blue cod (15 in Paterson Inlet) and 30 per day for flounder but trout anglers have to be satisfied with 2-6 fish per day, depending where they are.

Some anglers say it would be better to have a lower bag limit rather than no fishing at all. Low trout catch limits have generally helped fish numbers so that trout fishing now in many waters is as good as it was years ago. However if there is a high level of angling in relation to the fish population only a complete cessation of the harvest will work especially if the catchable fish take several years to get to harvestable size which is true of many of our freshwater and marine fish.

There is a good argument that reserves will provide benefits for anglers who fish near them as fish that are spilled out of the high-density areas become available for harvest. Ten percent of the ocean doesn't sound that much. If it provides benefits to anglers, and to others who just want to see fish in their natural environment as well as restoring natural biodiversity it seems that the more reserves should be established, although if similar goals could be achieved with lower bag limits this could be used too.   

Maurice Rodway
Southland, New Zealand                           E-mail:

Article © 2005 Maurice Rodway, All Rights Reserved.


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