Snappy about snapper

The Herald reports:

Proposed cuts to recreational snapper quotas have hit a nerve with politicians on both sides of the House as electorate MPs in fishing hotspots come under pressure for meddling with fishers’ bag limits.

Fisheries Minister Nathan Guy was grilled at Parliament yesterday over possible restrictions on the recreational fishery which were designed to help rebuild the depleted Snapper 1 fishery from Northland to Bay of Plenty.

United Future leader Peter Dunne said the proposals were absurd while independent MP Brendan Horan compared the rules to that of a police state.

Labour fisheries spokesman David Cunliffe claimed tens of thousands of New Zealanders were outraged by the proposals because snapper stocks were healthy outside Bay of Plenty and because the proposals did not include a cut to the commercial take.

Hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders do recreational fishing, and you meddle with their enjoyment at your peril.

Mr Guy stressed that the proposals were still in the consultation phase.

Options included either a lower total recreation catch or controls on recreation catch. The controls range from cutting the bag limit to three, raising the minimum legal size to 36cm, or a combination of the two. The minister could go beyond these options in his final decision, which would come into force on October 1.

The current catch limit is nine fish. Three is a ridiculously low level, and even including it as an option is unhelpful.

Even though it is just a consultation, what appears to be angering people are:

  • All three options propose a reduction in the catch limit and/or increase in the minimum size. There is no status quo option.
  • The commercial quotas are not being reviewed, just the recreational quotas

The consultation document is here and and a q+a here.


A reader has pointed out:


  • There are a wide range of options, including the option of cutting the catch limit for commercial fishers. David Cunliffe is wrong to say this isn’t an option. It is.
  •  The options range from changing the overall catch up or down by 500 tonnes, or the status quo.
  • After that decision, the Minister has a range of options. Quota changes could be for recreational or commercial fishers. They could go down, up, or stay the same.
  • The Minister has said the option of cutting the bag limit to three is only one option at the extreme end, and is unlikely.


That’s useful clarification. I have to say though the consultation document is very opaque and my reading of it is that most of the focus was on the potential reduction in catch limits and increases in minimum sizes. References to commercial quota changes seem to be a brief mention, rather than any detailed option. So hence it is not surprising that people have got somewhat worked up.

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