29 Sep 2019

Lower tarakihi catch limits still too high - environmental group

12:02 pm on 29 September 2019

The government's lower catch limits for tarakihi don't go nearly far enough, environmental lobby group LegaSea says.

Tarakihi at Pak n Save Kilbirnie.

Tarakihi Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

Announcing the decision on Friday, Fisheries Minister Stuart Nash said the 10 percent cut for east coast tarakihi is supported by scientific evidence that showed their abundance was very low.

The move - which goes into effect on Tuesday, 1 October - follows a review of catch limits and management controls for 20 fish stocks around the country to ensure their sustainability.

Mr Nash had said it would be supported by stronger monitoring and verification through the use of on-board cameras in two areas.

"I expect these cameras to provide coverage of a significant majority of the catch by the end of 2020," he said.

It followed a 20 percent reduction the previous year.

However, LegaSea spokesperson Sam Woolford said the lower limits were still too high to ensure the fishery could recover.

"Tarakihi stocks on the east coast of New Zealand are at 15.9 percent of their original biomass," he said.

"We've seen the decline over a long period of time and we don't feel that the minister's made a decision that's actually going to have any real impact, that's going to take the pressure off these fisheries so they have a chance to rebound."

Mr Woolford said a 40 percent cut to the commercial catch limit was needed.

A marine biologist, Rick Boyd, had said that the target level was usually to have a biomass of 40 percent of what was there before a fishery.

He had said the data suggested there was a need to reduce catch numbers, although it could not necessarily be concluded that the species was at risk.

When asked for comment about the size of the limit reductions, Mr Nash's office pointed out they had been decided after public consultation in June and July.

The office repeated Mr Nash's statement on Friday, in which he noted that further cuts to the limits were still possible.

"Further reductions may be introduced if industry are not able to deliver on commitments in the Industry Rebuild Plan. I have instructed Fisheries New Zealand to monitor this regularly and closely monitor performance against the Industry Rebuild Plan and report any non-performance," Mr Nash said.

"Sustainable use is at the heart all of these decisions. They are based on the best available scientific information along with feedback from the community. It's about making sure there are enough fish in the water for current and future generations to enjoy."

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