A Sobering Article on the State of the Hauraki Gulf

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JohnnyR
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Sat Mar 03, 2018 7:51 am


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AndrewRawlingson
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Sun Mar 04, 2018 11:02 am

Is anyone really surprised? I admit it’s happened faster than I anticipated though.
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UrbanAngler
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Tue Mar 06, 2018 2:11 pm

sad truth. I have a young boy, and how I wish he or his grandchild can enjoy the same favorite past time I privileged to have at this time.

Strange that Aussies or American with heck a lot more people able to manage their resources better than us here.

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Hairy Little Dwarf
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Tue Mar 06, 2018 7:48 pm

Whenever I read articles such as this, I always remember sitting on Beachhaven wharf in the early morning as a teen in the 70's - not catching anything.
An old guy wandered down with his even older dog. The usual, "Any luck?"
"Nah"
"When I was your age, we'd catch five sugar sacks of snapper here"
"That's probably why there's none here now...."
He grunted something lost in the wind, and wandered off.

In eight years, the biggest Snapper I ever got there was 4lb - I remember a couple of people cheering from their cars as I cycled home with the fish tied to the crossbar...
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Marc N
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Wed Mar 07, 2018 2:34 pm

And here was I thinking that the fishing generally, might be on the improve.

Reading that article definitely changes my view.

Like the old fella at Beachhaven, I have memories.

I grew up on Northcote Point. From the age of 3 (55 years ago) I remember with my Dad, rowing out past the moored yachts and getting heaps of fish, the neighbour, Dad, me and 4 other kids in a 15 foot kauri clinker, 100 metres from the Gold Hole.

Kingfish, Trevalley, Gurnard, Snapper, Dogfish, Conger Eel, and for excitement, the XXXL Stingray, to tow the lot of us, up the harbour for half an hour, before the hook straightened.

When I was a teen, the fish had gone. As a young adult, we'd have to go as far as the Noisies or Kawau Island to get a feed. In my 30's and 40's Little Barrier and Great Barrier were the closest, reliable, good fishing, even Kawau Island had been decimated. So when I came back to NZ recently, I was pleasantly surprised that I could get any fish in the harbour.

Still Piha is my only reliable bigger fish spot. And of course trout down the Waikato.

I know why there's few fish left.

As a randy young teen, I used to take the date du jour, to a wee carpark on top of a building close to Takapuna beach, which afforded a view of the gulf from Takapuna, at night of course...

In betwixt sentences, I'd look out over the beach and see 3, 4, 5, 6 trawlers, scraping Rangitoto channel, some with lights on, some not, in the dark, like thieves.

Those trawlers f**ked the fish stocks for many many years.

If I were able, I'd ban all commercial fishing of any species, excepting mussel and oyster farms etc, within the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park - click the map -

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- Forfeit boat, gear and liberty for transgressors.

I've known a few commercial fishermen and the law, to them, is something to be skirted.
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MikeAqua
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Wed Mar 07, 2018 4:10 pm

I suppose it would be wasted effort to point out that >50% of the estimated take in Hauraki gulf is recreational and has been for donkey's years.

Or that the commercial sector's catch is constrained individually and in aggregate, to finite quantity of fish while the recreational catch is only constrained per individual per day, which is not really a control at all. No-one knows what the total recreational take is.

Or that the harbours that were once nursery grounds for juvenile fish have been decimated by urban development and associated siltation and pollution. Snapper are relatively fast growing fish and the population produces large numbers of eggs. But there is minimal suitable habitat for juvenile snapper. If that bottleneck could be addressed ...

If I was to point finger at any commercial fishery it woudl be the mussel dredge fisheries of the 1960s. I'm sure that those natural mussel beds were essential habitat for many, many juvenile fish.
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Marc N
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Wed Mar 07, 2018 5:21 pm

Good points, but it is also worth remembering, that the recreational catch around Auckland over the last 20-30 years has been bugger all or we wouldn't be having this conversation.

As you say commercial catch, can be measured, last I looked, there's still fishing boats in Auckland.
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Marc N
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Wed Mar 07, 2018 5:25 pm

One of the yachts off Birkenhead this morning was festooned with big bunches of blue/black mussels, next time I'm out I'll grab some to use as ground bait :D

As you say the mussel beds are gone, but mussel farms and reseeding of mussels near sewerage outlets (Mission Bay), may go someway to redress the imbalance.
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MikeAqua
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Thu Mar 08, 2018 8:32 am

Marc N wrote:
Wed Mar 07, 2018 5:21 pm
Good points, but it is also worth remembering, that the recreational catch around Auckland over the last 20-30 years has been bugger all or we wouldn't be having this conversation.

As you say commercial catch, can be measured, last I looked, there's still fishing boats in Auckland.
While individual recreational catches are limited collectively they are a very big chunk of the overall take in that fishery. Commercial and recreational fishers pointing fingers at each other is pointless. There is plenty of blame to go around

While there are fishing boats based in Auckland, they range far and wide to catch fish. The reason for having boats based in Auckland is to have a landing point with reasonable access to the international airport (airfreight).

I'd also like to pick up on the report authors' claims that snapper are ~80% lower than their original populations. That is true. Fisheries scientist call the original number virgin biomass (B0). We need to understand that the wider ecosystem and crucial habitat like harbours and estuaries have been degraded so much, that population level can probably no longer be sustained.

Another important point is that we don't want fisheries at virgin biomass (B0). At that level the fishery is not very productive because resources are limited, and because it is not very productive it is not very resilient and respond poorly to harvesting.

We need fisheries to sit around 40% of B0. That is the sweet spot of maximum sustainable yield (called BMSY) where the biggest total harvests can be sustained. If we were there, everyone would be sick of catching snapper.
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Marc N
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Thu Mar 08, 2018 10:30 am

Thank you for your good sense, I apologise if my views come across as a rant. I'm sure we'll both agree, blame and fault lies where it will.

I for one, will enjoy fishing and not having to pay to eat Snapper, I'd love a John Dory or two, I definitely can't afford to buy one at the shop.

When I lived in Birkdale about in the late 90's, we rowed out from the Island Bay wharf and my 5 year old daughter, caught a large John Dory in about 20 feet of water. No other fish that day. Aaah memories....
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kingiFiddler
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Thu Mar 08, 2018 12:24 pm

Who needs 7 snapper per person per day (said the guy who doesn't eat seafood and whose family are not seafood nuts)? But would dropping said limit help in any significant way? What about upping the legal sizes?

How about upping the fines or empowering confiscation so that the costs of chasing/enforcing rules pale in comparison to the $ recoverable? That financially motivates enforcement and drives the message home.

How about stop stuffing people into a limited land area and only giving pathetic consideration to the real adverse impacts of such development? Who do we think we are kidding?

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AndrewRawlingson
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Thu Mar 08, 2018 12:38 pm

kingiFiddler wrote:
Thu Mar 08, 2018 12:24 pm
Who needs 7 snapper per person per day (said the guy who doesn't eat seafood and whose family are not seafood nuts)? But would dropping said limit help in any significant way? What about upping the legal sizes?
I was quite keen on that, but then you get the guy coming along who only fishes once or twice a year. Even the guy who fishes once a month and takes his limit, takes few fish than me. I may on take two to three fish per trip, but I'm out once or twice a week. A tag system would be great, but expensive and would take significant resources to administer.

Some current thinking is drop the legal size. Catch and release survival rates aren't as high as we all think, especially if fishing in water >20metres. If you took everything you caught up to a bag limit, then that might be better for the snapper population as a whole.
kingiFiddler wrote:
Thu Mar 08, 2018 12:24 pm
How about upping the fines or empowering confiscation so that the costs of chasing/enforcing rules pale in comparison to the $ recoverable? That financially motivates enforcement and drives the message home.
I'd support that. Take boats and cars and ask questions later. Unfortunately, our system is very soft when it comes to dealing with these things.
kingiFiddler wrote:
Thu Mar 08, 2018 12:24 pm
How about stop stuffing people into a limited land mass and only giving pathetic consideration to the real adverse impacts of such development?
A good idea, but yeah, right... :)
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kingiFiddler
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Thu Mar 08, 2018 12:55 pm

Yeah, if it were easy, it would have been done by now.

Why, after all this time, isn't the science settled on catch/size limits and survival rates? Maybe those increased fines can help fund the research to settle the matter? Heck, I could have caught my limit of snapper on the last trip with those new diving lures I just got, if we are keeping the 'happy meal' sized fish.

Screw the carrot and softly softly approach to fines. The same 'ole "we are here to educate not fine" rubbish. Just get super serious and watch people pull their heads in or lose their $/watercraft. Is there nobody left in positions of power who will do right by the future generations? It would only take a few cases to go through the courts before the law would be tested and settled and could then be streamlined.

Heck, have a hotline and allow the informant to decide what charity 10% of the prosecution proceeds goes to. Like a modern day bounty. Or is that going too far? Bugger it - lets go for broke on this and do it.

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