In Heatley’s opinion this decision is merely a “technical adjustment” and nothing will change on the water.
He was referring to bag limits and regulations, but his statement could easily be applied to kahawai abundance levels. It is a major concern that kahawai numbers will not increase in the near future.
One difficulty is that non-commercial fishers, both customary and recreational, predominantly talk in numbers of fish. Conversely MFish and industry refer to biomass, the assumed overall weight of fish in the water.
The process used to determine fish stock biomass levels is highly speculative and based on a raft of assumptions that non-commercial interests have repeatedly rejected.
Even NIWA’s chief fisheries scientist, John McKoy, recently conceded limited knowledge about fish population sizes, sustainable catch levels and that much of the research is guesswork.
Notwithstanding this uncertainty, MFish estimate current kahawai biomass in Area 1 is around 45% of its virgin, unfished state. By 2028 MFish project biomass will be increased by about 15% from current levels, to around 52% of virgin biomass. But who of us will know?
There is one certainty. Your eyewitness accounts of kahawai work-ups and the stories of schooling masses, told to you by your dad and granddad, must have been a dream. Wake up people!