Club trying fishing ban off Peninsula

Rodney Times 28 October 1997

A Whangaparaoa-based fishing club is spearheading a voluntary fishing ban on two areas off the Peninsula. The Bay of Whales Fishing Club (BWFC) is seeking the cooperation of recreational anglers to respect the ban.

The trial areas are about 1.4 square Kilometre zones around the SE reef off the southern tip of the Peninsula, and from the western end of Army Bay beach. Both areas begin about 150m offshore from the low tide mark.

One of the first test of the ban will be the big Gulf Harbour Yacht Club fishing tournament, which has a prize pool of $45,000, over the weekend of November 8 and 9. The no-fishing areas will be marked with yellow buoys and flags. Fishing club president Graham Ellis says his group is trying to take practical steps toward improving fish stocks around the Peninsula. The two voluntary no-go zones may provide some relief during the Snapper spawning season, says Mr Ellis. More importantly, it will draw public attention to diminishing fish numbers.

Commercial snapper fishing is now closed in the Hauraki Gulf south of the Whangaparaoa Peninsula through the Rangitoto Channel and the Tamaki Strait.

Mr Ellis"My main concern is that the Peninsula will now be targeted for greater commercial activity," says Mr Ellis. He believes, however, that too much emphasis and valuable time and money have already been spent on fighting the commercial sector. "This has inevitably led to a lengthy period of trying to resolve the difficulties we face today, and still our fish stocks are being rapidly depleted."

Hauraki Gulf to Bay of Plenty sub-stocks, according to a recent Ministry of Fisheries reoport, have already fallen below a sustainable level, and will get worse unless something is done now. "Many countries in the world once had huge fisheries, but are now left like deserts with water on the top and wondering what went wrong," says Mr Ellis.

Believing concern about fish stocks is widespread throughout Rodney, the BWFC is enlisting the support and suggestions of anglers and other fishing and boating clubs in the district. A public meeting to discuss local strategies will be held at 7:30 pm on November 3 at the club's Whangaparaoa Hotel lounge bar base. One of the ideas to be discussed will be the establishment of a Rodney district water area for angling, and to ask the Fisheries Minister John Luxton for his support. Another suggestion will be to increase the minimum legal size for snapper in the Rodney water area from the present 270mm to 350mm. This larger measure was adopted by the BWFC members two years ago.

"It has been well publicised that the most prolific breeding size for snapper is between 270 and 350mm, so we would be effectively leaving that prime breeding stock alone to assist in the replenishing," says Mr Ellis. Further, it is suggested that local clubs compile a standard weigh sheet so that information can be gathered for a monitoring programme.

Bag limits could also be reduced from nine snapper a day per person to five or six a day over the October-December spawning season when fish are in their greatest numbers around the coast. Almost the entire area around the Peninsula is a breeding ground for snapper, says Mr Ellis.

Other proposals include an education programme including talks at schools covering the dynamics of fish stocks and management, how to successfully release fish, and how to target fish of 350mm and over.

"As recreational fishing people we have an unwritten obligation to do everything possible to preserve the now global luxury of a healthy fishery," says Mr Ellis.