PRINCIPLE 4 – Equal size limits for all
Management inequities enable commercial fishers to profit from catching and selling fish that recreational fishers must return to the sea.
That’s because they have a smaller minimum size limit.
Examples where this is occurring is with snapper, crayfish, scallops and kingfish.
Our fish are being caught and sold to overseas supermarkets before you are even allowed to take them home to feed your family!
Size limits on fish should be set for biological reasons to ensure sustainability. They should never be used to give priority to commercial fishers over non commercial fishers.
Over time, the effects of fishing with different size limits and depleted stock sizes sees an unfair reallocation of fish from recreational to commercial interests.
The reality is that the commercial catch of small fish is keeping the stock size small and is denying recreational catch opportunities.
LegaSea is calling on your support to Tip the Scales, from blatant commercial priority to fairness and equality when it comes to size limits.
As a start the recreational minimum size limits ought to apply to commercial catch. Protecting young fish will have long-term benefits for the fishery.
Protecting small fish is a priority.
If some fishing methods are not selective enough to avoid catching and killing large amounts of small fish they need to be banned. Area restrictions or method controls may be required.
1. Standardise, across all sectors, the MLS for all fish stocks and set them for biological and stock management outcomes rather than using it as an allocation tool. The default policy is to increase MLS to the highest current size.
One of the reasons for removing trawl beyond the 100m contour is that the method is unselective and biased to catch small fish.
The Minister and Ministry for Primary Industries consider the benefits to commercial fishers of taking sub-legal crayfish warrants maintaining the concession, even though the original reason for implementation no longer exists.
This is a clear demonstration of the addictiveness of allowing access to small fish – it quickly becomes a valuable component of catch and is defended to the detriment of recreational fishers and the nation.
The exploitation rate in the northeastern snapper fishery is estimated to be around 11 to 15%. Lowering the exploitation rate to 8% and rebuilding the fishery is expected to increase the numbers of older fish in the population.
When that occurs it may be necessary to minimise mortality on these older fish – we haven’t really brought this into close enough focus to know if such a strategy would offer a benefit to the stock.