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Section 5:Recreational fishing parks

We know there are increasing numbers of users of the inshore marine space, resulting in growing pressures on some fish stocks and increased tension between customary, recreational and commercial fishers. There are some areas, particularly in sheltered areas close to population centres, where the separation of non-commercial and commercial fishing for some species may improve the fishing experience of recreational fishers.

The Government is proposing to establish recreational fishing parks to enhance the enjoyment and value of recreational fishing in these high-demand areas by reducing the localised impact of commercial fishing. These parks will enable recreational fishers to have more say in how the value of the recreational experience can be enhanced and to have greater input into how fisheries are managed in these areas.

While commercial fishing will generally be prohibited for the main recreational species, specific parks might allow commercial fishing to continue for certain species. Customary fishing and marine farming will not be affected by the creation of recreational fishing parks and some petroleum or minerals activities could be allowed.

It is proposed that the new MPA Act will create a framework for establishing recreational fishing parks. It is also proposed that parks in two of our main recreational fishing areas – the Hauraki Gulf and Marlborough Sounds – will be created under the new legislation.

Hauraki Gulf Recreational Fishing Park

The Hauraki Gulf is one of New Zealand’s recreational fishing hotspots. It sits within Fisheries Management Area 1 (FMA1), which extends from North Cape to the western Bay of Plenty. The snapper fishery in FMA1 is the largest recreational fishery in the country, and on a typical summer’s day on the Hauraki Gulf, up to 6900 recreational vessels can be on the water carrying around 21,000 fishers. About 80 commercial fishing vessels are also fishing in the Hauraki Gulf, which may be competing with recreational fishers for catch and space. There are a number of restrictions on commercial fishing that are designed to limit the impact of fishing on the environment or mitigate competition between fishing sectors.

Location of the proposed Hauraki Gulf Recreational Fishing Park

The precise boundaries for the proposed Hauraki Gulf Recreational Fishing Park will require careful consideration. The draft proposal is that the park extends across the inner Hauraki Gulf, incorporating Statistical Area 7 in FMA1 and Omaha Bay (see map 1).

Species

While it is proposed that most commercial fishing activity would be prohibited in the proposed Hauraki Gulf Recreational Fishing Park, commercial fishing of some species could continue where there is limited competition between recreational and commercial use of a species and there is a strong rationale for commercial fishing to remain. For instance, it may be desirable for commercial fishing of flatfish to continue because they are prolific breeders and are not heavily targeted by non-commercial fishers.

Within the area indicated in map 1, the key species targeted by recreational fishers in the proposed area are snapper, flatfish, kahawai, john dory, gurnard, tarakihi, trevally, and scallops. It is proposed that these finfish species would be exclusively non-commercial in the park area.

Table 2: Top 12 fish stocks by average annual commercial catch (tonnes) for the past five fishing years (2010/11 – 2014/15) in the Hauraki Gulf

Stock

Estimated commercial catch within proposed park (tonnes)

Percentage of total allowable commercial catch caught within proposed park

Snapper

261

5.8

Kahawai

176

16.3

Flatfish

171

14.4

Grey mullet

99

10.7

Pilchard

56

2.8

Rig

43

6.2

Parore

21

34.9

Kina

14

10.3

Jack mackerel

11

0.1

Trevally

10

0.6

Gurnard

4

0.2

School shark

4

0.6

Total

870

 

Note: the total allowable commercial catch is within the relevant quota management area for each species.

Map 1: Proposed location for a Hauraki Gulf Recreational Fishing Park based on Statistical Area 7 in Fisheries Management Area 1 and Omaha Bay

Marlborough Sounds

The Marlborough Sounds is another important area for recreational fishers in New Zealand. A considerable amount of recreational fishing effort occurs in the Marlborough area, which tends to be concentrated in Queen Charlotte Sound, Pelorus Sound and around D’Urville Island. Recreational fishing effort is highest over the summer holiday months when there is an influx of visitors.

Blue cod is the primary species targeted in this fishery. As fishing effort has intensified and gear has improved, the fishery has suffered localised depletion, with the decline in blue cod abundance being particularly acute in the enclosed waters of the inner Marlborough Sounds. This resulted in the fishery being closed for two years, from 2009–11, and managed through tighter catch restrictions. A new regime for blue cod recreational fishing applies from 20 December 2015, following a process of public engagement and consultation.

Commercial fishing is constrained in areas of the Marlborough Sounds for particular times of the year. There is pressure from recreational users for this to be further restrained, because of the importance of the recreational fishery to the local community and tourism sector.

Location of the proposed Marlborough Sounds Recreational Fishing Park

The precise boundaries for the proposed Marlborough Sounds Recreational Fishing Park will require careful consideration. The proposal would be for the park to cover the current area of the Marlborough Sounds Blue Cod Management Area (see map 2).

Species

It is proposed that the Marlborough Sounds Recreational Fishing Park would affect only commercial finfishing. This would mean that, within the park, commercial fishers could continue to harvest species such as paua, scallop and crayfish under the Quota Management System. Within the area indicated on map 2, the main finfish species targeted by recreational fishers are blue cod, snapper, flatfish, hapuku and bass. Commercial fishers also target these species, as well as school shark.

Table 3: Top 12 fish stocks by average annual commercial catch (tonnes) for the past five fishing years (2010/11 – 2014/15) in the Marlborough Sounds

Stock

Estimated commercial catch within proposed park (tonnes)

Percentage of total allowable commercial catch caught within proposed park

Gurnard (GUR7)

26

3.3

Red cod (RCO7)

21

0.7

Flatfish (FLA7)

14

0.7

Spiny dogfish (SPD7)

13

0.7

Snapper (SNA7)

6

2.9

Barracouta (BAR7)

6

0.1

Leatherjacket (LEA2)

6

0.5

John dory (JDO7)

5

3.2

School shark (SCH

4

0.6

Rig (SPO7)

4

1.6

Tarakihi (TAR 7)

3

0.3

Blue cod (BCO7)

31*

44.3

Total

139

 

* This figure includes 29 tonnes of blue cod catch taken by potting across the whole of Statistical Area 017 (this includes the Marlborough Sounds plus the area south to Cape Campbell). Potting fishers are only required to report their catch by statistical area and there is no reliable estimate of what proportion of blue cod catch taken by potting within Statistical Area 017 is caught within the proposed park boundaries.

Note: the total allowable commercial catch is within the relevant quota management area for each species.

Map 2: Proposed location of a Marlborough Sounds Recreational Fishing Park based on the Blue Cod Management Area

r150466_Option4_20151202_Plain_with_Topo

Compensation for commercial fishers

As discussed in section 3, commercial fishing in New Zealand is managed through the Quota Management System, which enables sustainable economic value to be gained from fisheries resources. While the Fisheries Act is clear that the Crown is not liable to pay compensation where measures are taken for sustainability (including biodiversity protection), recreational fishing parks are created to enhance the recreational fishing experience.

The Government is therefore proposing to develop a specific compensation approach for recreational fishing parks. This approach will be similar to the situation where a marine farm is established and it affects the rights of quota holders to the point where compensation may be justified.

In recreational fishing parks, a case-by-case assessment will be carried out that recognises the particular characteristics of the commercial fisheries in the area. Compensation will be paid to quota owners when the impact on commercial fishing is deemed to be materially significant, consistent with relevant criteria to be included in the proposed MPA Act.[7]

The amount payable will be determined through an evidence-based assessment of the impact on commercial fishing for quota species. This would take into account the boundaries of the park and whether there are to be any measures that would mitigate the effect of a general prohibition on commercial fishing, such as seasonal or species exemptions.

When it comes to compensation, the Government recognises the fisheries management incentives surrounding ownership of quota, which encourage a long-term view and a focus on sustainability.

Management and reporting

The management of recreational fishing parks will need careful consideration, including how they will link with existing marine management processes.

For the proposed recreational fishing parks in the Hauraki Gulf and Marlborough Sounds, linkage will need to be made with initiatives such as Sea Change in Auckland and the Blue Cod Management Group in Marlborough.

The lead agency for recreational fishing parks will be the Ministry for Primary Industries although there will be a greater opportunity for input for iwi, stakeholders and interested parties into management decisions within the boundaries of recreational fishing parks.

One way to achieve this could be the formation of an advisory group, appointed by the Minister responsible for fisheries, and tasked with providing advice on matters aligned with the purpose of the recreational fishing park.

Such a group could consist of individuals that are representative of iwi and relevant stakeholders. The group could also include a range of interests and expertise such as marine science. Specific terms of reference could be drafted once the group is established.

Monitoring the outcome of recreational fishing parks will also be a vital part of their ongoing management. Monitoring could include looking at how the displacement of commercial fishing may have affected other fishing areas and any impact on the abundance of fish stock. It could also include monitoring of the recreational fishing experience. Options need to be explored regarding how this could be assessed.

Questions

Please be clear as to whether your responses apply to the Hauraki Gulf, Marlborough Sounds or both proposed areas.

  1. Do you support the proposal for recreational fishing parks in the Hauraki Gulf and Marlborough Sounds?
  2. What do you think should be the boundary lines for the recreational fishing parks? In the Hauraki Gulf, could we use the Statistical Area 7 of Fishing Management Area 1 (see map 1)? In the Marlborough Sounds, could we use the Blue Cod Management Area (see map 2)? Are these boundary lines easily recognisable, that is, would prominent landmarks help with identifying the boundaries of the park when you are on a boat?
  3. Do you think commercial fishing should be allowed to continue for some species within recreational fishing parks? If so, what species would you allow and why?
  4. What do you think about the proposed compensation scheme for commercial fishing affected by the creation of recreational fishing parks?
  5. What do you think about who should manage the recreational fishing parks? How could the park management work together with existing groups?
  6. How should benefits and changes created through the proposed parks be monitored? How could this work?

  • [7] A form of the Undue Adverse Effects test (UAE test), similar to the one currently used when commercial fishing is affected by proposed aquaculture activity, will be used to determine whether and what amount of compensation is payable. As with the existing aquaculture UAE test, if quota owners disagree with the proposed level of compensation, they will be able to have their offer of compensation assessed through an independent resolution process under the Arbitration Act 1996. The assessment will be made by an independent arbitrator and includes the right of appeal to the High Court on points of law.