Positive action, and some total bs about the stewardship of NZ fisheries

UntitledI recently had the pleasure of attending the New Zealand Underwater Association’s (NZUA) 64th AGM which was held at the Dolphin’s Underwater club rooms beside Lake Pupuke, Auckland (30 June–1 July), hosted by Wettie Spearfishing Club. Many divers have no idea what the NZUA does behind the scenes regarding the welfare of underwater activities/sports such as underwater hockey/rugby, spearfishing and scuba diving. Delegates representing these sports reported that they are experiencing strong participation and the competitive spirit amongst participants is alive and well!

One of the NZUA’s Key Missions is the security of the marine environment. You do not need to be a rocket scientist to realise that we humans are having a huge impact on the marine environment and the life forms that live beneath the water surfaces of this planet.

NZUA have formed a collaboration with LegaSea. LegaSea is a recreational fishing advocacy group established in 2012 to help the public understand the issues affecting our marine fisheries and environment and why we need to restore abundance, ensuring there is enough fish in the water for future generations. It is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the New Zealand Sport Fishing Council.

During LegaSea’s presentation at the AGM it became abundantly clear that New Zealand’s fisheries are in big trouble. Recent postings on their website (www.legasea.co.nz) echo their concerns about the condition of New Zealand’s fisheries.

Some of the fisheries have been hammered to the point that drastic steps need to be implemented to allow the remaining stock a chance to rebuild. You have to ask, how was it allowed to reach this point? Closures, or a reduction of the allowable take by recreational and commercial fishers, have positively affected the following: scallops, paua, blue cod and snapper.

The critical condition of the decreasing number of crayfish in the CRA2 Area fishery off Auckland’s east coast and the Bay of Plenty is of great concern. Many knowledgeable people now consider a total closure is needed to prevent the complete collapse of this fishery.

The commercial fishing industry is currently doing a major public relations campaign. The commercial fishing industry has taken a battering by an in-depth study of under-reporting and wasteful dumping of fish in New Zealand waters over the last 60 years and their management of the tuna fishery.

The public have had a guts-full of the waste and the fishing industry’s seeming lack of regard for the Quota Management System (QMS) and the government’s wet-ticket management of the industry.

Many of you will have seen the Fishing Industry’s TV and radio PR campaigns, which are trying to promote an image that the industry and its people can be trusted to manage our fishing stocks and the marine environment.

Is this their reaction to the mounting pressure being brought about by social media and mainstream media?—people are screaming—enough is enough! Obviously the industry is prepared to throw thousands of dollars at a PR campaign to try and change people’s opinion of the industry. Most people will see it for what it is, a load of PR BS!

The dairy industry is also doing a similar PR campaign.

We also know that many of the public have scant regard for the environment. The Goat Island Marine Reserve is plundered day and night. Especially at night. Cray pots laid without any marker buoys. Divers retrieving the pots at night – on and on it goes.

I’ll leave you with a comment from Jean-Michel Cousteau: We may be the only species capable of truly appreciating the beautiful complexities of our little blue jewel.

Sadly many of us do not see the beautiful complexities.

Dave Moran, Editor at Large