In July the Ministry of Fisheries (MF) conducted meetings for interested parties to put forward their proposals regarding the snapper fishery on the West Coast of the North Island of New Zealand, Snapper 8 Area Quota system (SNA8). MF is proposing a reduction in the total allowable catch (TAC) to address concerns over the low biomass of SNA8. It is estimated that the current biomass of the stock is approximately half the target biomass, and only about 10% of unfished biomass. Under the current TAC, SNA8 biomass is expected to increase slowly but will not reach the target biomass within the next 20 years. The options proposed by MF: reduce the TAC from 2,060 tonnes to either 1,922 tonnes, 1,785 tonnes or 1,510 tonnes. Each option will result in greater certainty of rebuild, at a faster rate, than the current total allowable catch. One approach is to proportionally reduce both the recreational allowance and the total allowable commercial catch (TACC). Under this approach, steps will need to be taken to ensure that the recreational catch does not exceed the reduced allowance. As a first step, a decrease in the amateur bag limit from 15 to 10 is proposed in the northern part of the stock, in line with the current bag limit of 10 in the southern part of the stock. No other management measures are proposed.
The second approach is to reduce the TACC only, with the recreational allowance remaining unchanged. Under this approach, a review of the effects of the recreational fishery on rebuild rates will be required when better recreational catch estimates are available. (go to story on page 96)