17 Sep 2013

Recreational snapper catch cut

8:42 pm on 17 September 2013

Recreational fishers have six months of snapper fishing left before they face tighter restrictions on the number and size they can catch.

The Ministry for Primary Industries had proposed cutting the number from nine to three, increasing the size of fish allowed, or a combination of both.

But it relented slightly, with Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy on Tuesday announcing recreational fishers in the upper North Island will be allowed to keep seven fish which must be at least 30cm long - 3cm longer than the current limits.

The total allowable catch in the fishery will also increase by 500 tonnes.

"What I can explain to mum and dad is they will still be able to go out and catch a fish," Mr Guy said.

"The stock is rebuilding. I've allocated 500 tonnes - an extra 500 tonnes - for the recreational fishers. That will go down very well."

Commercial fishers are also being targeted in the scheme, which aims to rebuild snapper stocks between Bay of Plenty and the Far North.

They will have maximum size limits, and by October 2015 must all carry GPS technology and have observers on board. Commercial fishers will also be banned from fishing in areas known as juvenile habitats.

Recreational Fishing Council former president Keith Ingram, who is editor of Professional Skipper, said fishers would not accept their daily catch limit being reduced while the commercial quota remained the same.

"Most recreational fishers, in the spirit of goodwill to help the fishery rebuild will accept seven," Mr Ingram said.

"However, what they won't accept is a reallocation of the fish they save, or conserve, being taken by the commercial sector."

The recreational sector would continue to lobby against the changes, he said.

About 50,000 people made submissions on changes to the quota, mostly as part of a petition or through a website.

The new fishing season starts on 1 October but the new rules will not come into force until April.