Minister announces changes to Snapper 1 rules

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Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has today announced a range of measures aimed at continuing the rebuild of the Snapper 1 stock for future generations.

“This is a balanced and fair package which will ultimately mean more fish for everyone in the coming years.

“As a first step towards reaching this goal, I have decided to increase the Total Allowable Catch (TAC) in this area from 7550 tonnes a year to 8050, and allocate the extra 500 tonnes all to the recreational sector. This will mean a commercial allocation of 4550 tonnes and 3050 for the recreational sector.

“The scientific advice from the Ministry for Primary Industries suggests the Snapper 1 fishery can handle an increase of 500 tonnes and still continue the rebuild.

“However, because the recreational sector has been catching well above the set allowance in recent years, short term management changes are required. This will involve a reduction in the bag limit from nine to seven per day, and an increase in the minimum size from 27cm to 30cm. These changes will take effect on 1 April 2014.

“This is New Zealand’s most valuable inshore fishery.  It is highly valued by all users, and I do not believe the current allocation of the TAC reasonably reflects the importance of the fishery to recreational fishers.  As the stock increases in size I intend to increase the recreational share from the current 64:36 share to 50:50.

“A clear message from submissions is that we need to do more to monitor the commercial catch and prevent unlawful behaviour. Therefore I am also introducing a comprehensive package to improve our monitoring and stamp out any illegal dumping. This will include:

  • Camera or observer coverage on 25% of all trawl vessels by 1 December 2013, with 100% coverage by 1 October 2015.
  • Trialling the use of cameras to record and measure fish returned to the sea.
  • Mandatory Vessel Monitoring Systems (VMS) on all commercial vessels by 1 October 2014.
  • Introducing a “move on rule”, where commercial fishers will move from fishing spots where a significant portion of catch is small juvenile fish.
  • Implement a scientific tagging survey by 1 October 2014 to provide up to date and reliable information on the Snapper 1 stock. This will come with a cost of $7 million and will be split 50/50 between the government and the commercial sector.
  • Require commercial fishers to report all catch under the commercial legal size by 1 April 2014.
  • Introducing a maximum size limit for commercial long line fishers. This will reduce commercial catch of large snapper. In general large snapper are too big for market, but are important to the recreational sector.
  • Establishing a Management Strategy Group by the end of 2013 to develop long term plans for this fishery, involving both recreational and commercial representatives.

“The aim of these measures is to ensure we have a healthy, sustainable stock that will provide for our children and grandchildren.

“The vast majority of submissions received agree with the principle of rebuilding this stock and sharing this fairly on both recreational and commercial sectors. These changes achieve that,” says Mr Guy.

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