Media Release: Money no excuse for the Government to not protect recreational fisheries ​

Media release
1 August, 2017

The Government must take its head out of the water and urgently act to protect New Zealand’s recreational fisheries, before our fishing way of life is lost.

Around 600,000 people fish each year in New Zealand, but this pastime is under threat with increases in New Zealand’s population and tourism numbers and increasing competition with commercial fishers for limited fisheries resources. Money should be no object in the Government acting with all fishing sectors to achieve this. 

The New Zealand Initiative’s consultation document The Future Catch found that of the estimated $61 million dollars in petrol excise collected from New Zealand recreational fishers in 2009, only $7 million went towards marine-related services.

Dr Oliver Hartwich, the Initiative’s Executive Director, says “It is not fair that New Zealand fisheries contribution through the petrol excise tax is not being used to support the recreational fishing experience.  Petrol taxes are earmarked for roadbuilding, and that’s fair enough, but when petrol is used on boats the tax should also be used to develop a more sustainable fishing experience.”

Dr Randall Bess, the report’s author, says “New Zealand was once known as a world leader in fisheries management, but that status is now questionable. Our QMS for managing commercial fisheries is over 30 years old, and needs to keep up with changes in social expectations about misreporting and illegal discarding.  Internationally we are also now dropping behind in the way recreational fisheries are managed.  We have some of the most relaxed fishing rights in the world, but this approach is not sustainable as our population is projected to increase 30 percent within another generation.

“Already we are seeing more stringent limits and seasonal restrictions being implemented in regions. Our snapper fishery in the Auckland and surrounding areas (SNA1) has had the daily bag limit reduced and the size limit increased. Unless we act now, we will follow the Gulf of Mexico where since 2014 fishers have had just 9 days to fish red snapper with a 2-fish bag limit. This year they had just 3 days to fish.  

“The Initiative strongly recommends that the Government immediately begins to address the effects of increasing demand for recreational fishing and intensifying intersectoral conflicts so that we can all recreationally fish for longer. This report provides recommendations to a pathway to sustainability, to provide both greater management of our fisheries and New Zealanders’ way of life.

“New Zealand has a fantastic and committed recreational fishing sector. But it is not getting the attention it deserves. We call on all New Zealanders to engage with us to bring about change for a sustainable fishing experience” says Dr Bess.

The New Zealand Initiative will be holding meetings across the country during the next few months to hear the views and opinions of the public, and seek New Zealanders support for a sustainable fishing experience.

If you would like to attend a meeting, details are set out on the Fisheries Project page on the New Zealand Initiative’s website. The details will also be provided through various outlets, including fishing clubs, local media and Facebook.

After this consultation process, the recommendations will be finalised and presented to the new government by the end of the year.

Specific recommendations from The Future Catch draft report:

  • The Government and all fishing sectors demonstrate a commitment to constructive and effective management of shared fisheries. This commitment includes:
    • reaching agreed abundance (biomass) targets for shared fisheries; and
    • designing indicators of core management or stock management performance that can be tracked over time. 
  • Integrate recreational fisheries into management policies and processes. This is accomplished by:Develop a process for fair and equitable total allowable catch allocations and reallocations over time, and in ways that benefit recreational fishers and compensate quota holders where they have a case for unjustified losses. 
    • developing a recreational fisheries policy in the context of shared fisheries, so it addresses the causes of intersectoral conflicts that can adversely affect the management of fisheries; 
    • improving representation of recreational fishing interests with the establishment of a Western Australia-type institution recognised by the Government as the peak body or central point of contact and referral for recreational sector issues. 
  • Fund the costs of the proposed new recreational fishing representative institution and its work for an initial five-year period through the petrol excise duties paid by recreational boat users. 
  • Afterwards, the institution’s role and funding options are reviewed. Those options include:
    • continued funding through the petrol excise duties;
    • contributions from recreational fishers and non-fishers willing to support the work of the new representative institution; or 
    • registration fees for recreational boats or trailers. 

Read, The Future Catch: Preserving Recreational Fisheries for the Next Generation.
We welcome the public's feedback on the report's draft recommendations, click here to access the survey.



Dr Randall Bess is available for comment. To arrange an interview, please contact:

Media contact

Simone White, Communications Officer
The New Zealand Initiative
Phone: +64 4 494 9109
Mobile: +64 21 2937 250

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