Current fisheries management targets a stock level at about the level required to produce maximum sustainable yield, although, this is a rather meaningless measure as it can be defined as anything between 10 and 50 percent of the original stock size, but is the law.
For nearly all species of importance to non-commercial fishers, the commercial catch dwarfs the combined customary and amateur catch.
For any commercial exclusion zone to deliver benefits there must be commercial activity in that area that is suppressing abundance, and if that activity is stopped then numbers and availability will improve.
However, any commercial effort displaced from a non-commercial zone would likely move to just outside the boundary. If so, can we reasonably assume that abundance in a small exclusion zone will be maintained many times higher than in the adjacent area?
A seasonal commercial exclusion zone has been in effect for a decade in the inner Hauraki Gulf. What studies have been done to establish a time series of data to measure if any there has been an increase in abundance? Or, if there has been a change in satisfaction levels, is it more fisher contentment from avoiding the need to fish amongst bulk-harvesting commercial vessels? This data would be very useful as we explore possible solutions.
Exclusive fishing zones seem very desirable, particularly when it is imagined the government will provide them free of charge. In reality commercial fishers will not forego historical access without exacting a return.
Are amateur fishing zones the bait that will finally tempt non-commercial fishing interests into accepting a defined proportion of the allowable catch as a Total Allowable Recreational Catch?
Without being in possession of the answers to these and other questions non-commercial fishing interests would be taking a risk in accepting these zones. A risk the commercial lobby never would. It risks buying a reform package without knowing the price.
Read more about amateur fishing zones in option4 Update #117 here » » »