This article was originally published in The Bay Chronicle in January 2006
The Government's 10 percent reduction in the kahawai Total Allowable Catch (TAC), took effect this month, against criticism by the NZ Seafood Industry Council that it is "unnecessary and disappointing."
The Council says the decision is completely inequitable in its effect on fishers: "Although the TAC cut applies to all sectors, its only impact, in terms of reduced catches, will be on the commercial sector as no additional management measures are proposed to reduce the take of the non-commercial sectors."
Kerikeri recreational fisher, fishing writer and scientist Mark Feldman, who has lobbied for the reduction in the commercial take, scoffed at the industry statement.
He said this week, "The fishing industry perceives the 10 percent cut in the kahawai catch as inequitable? They must be joking! The real reason it's inequitable is because the recreational fishermen have been unable to catch their limit of kahawai for over a decade now; a direct result of overfishing by the purse seine vessels that devastated the fishery in the late 1980s and early 1990s. So, in a perverse way, the commercial boys are right; reducing the limit by 10 percent is irrelevant to the recreational sector because they can't catch anything like that limit today anyway!"
He argues that kahawai deteriorate rapidly, and they are worth much more to recreational fishers and the tourism industry than to commercial fishers.
He warned some time ago that overfishing of kahawai would affect interdependent stocks of marlin and tuna and also terns and shearwaters, which rely kahawai to feed their young. Mr Feldman, actively involved in recreational fishing in the Far North for many years, is one of a number of individuals and groups, including the Recreational Fishing Council, Option4 and the Big Game Fishing Council, who have urged the Government to reduce the commercial kahawai catch.