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The local people you know and trust
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The local people you know and trust
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It’s good for business.
“But the latest charter boats to start operations
at Kawhia carry 20 people each and they’ve come
over here from Whitianga and the Coromandel,”
says Mr Rewi-Wetini.
“I reckon it’s because they’re running out of
snapper on the east coast from overfishing.”
Another concern is Albatross Point where he
says recreational boats are lined up like empty
cars waiting to refuel at a petrol station.
“Our people who farm that land see the same
boats and divers hauling out paua, kina, and
crayfish by the sack load again and again,” he says.
“ They’re not breaking the law and they’re tak-
ing legal limits, but they’re going to wipe out our
coastal seafood stocks if they keep it up.”
Mr Rewi-Wetini has spoken to people at sev-
eral marae who agree action needs to be taken
now, not in 20 years’ time.
He says marae from Aotea to Kiritehere, plan
to ban the gathering of shellfish and fishing for
snapper at certain times of the year, especially
when the snapper are spawning.
“We need to work alongside the Ministry
of Primary Industries (MPI) and manage the
“We definitely need more fisheries officers
checking permits and quota.”
RESERVE NO GO
Mr Rewi-Wetini also supports local moves
to make Aotea Reef a marine reserve, but MPI’s
chief fisheries compliance officer in Hamilton
Richard Ratapu says it can’t happen.
“ The reef is already gazetted as a mataitai
reserve which guarantees tangata whenua cus-
tomary rights and excludes commercial fishing,
but not recreational fishing,” says Mr Ratapu.
“MPI research shows snapper stocks on the
west coast at Kawhia and Raglan are very good.
“We also get anecdotal evidence from people
who go out there and instead of taking all day to
catch their limit, they’re catching their entitle-
ment a lot more quickly.”
“ The sizes are good – you only have to check
fishing websites and Facebook pages to see that.
“MPI does set minimum size limits to preserve
the snapper fishery – 27cm on the west coast and
30cm on the east coast.”
He says, while there is no evidence of any
threat to snapper from excess recreational take,
MPI keeps a “watchful eye” on what’s happen-
ing so catch and size limits can be adjusted if
“For example, last year studies showed snapper
stocks were coming under pressure in the Firth
of Thames and off Auckland, so we dropped the
daily catch limit from nine to seven and increased
the minimum size from 27cm to 30cm.
“If there were issues on the west coast we
would take similar steps.”
As for Mr Rewi-Wetini’s concern that divers
are taking too much seafood from Albatross
Point, Mr Ratapu says he’s monitored the area
himself and hasn’t seen anything that concerns
“Until we get good solid information people
are not keeping within the legal size and catch
limits, it’s not an issue we can deal with,” he says.
VIEW NOT SHARED
Kawhia charter business operator David Don-
ald does not share Mr Rewi-Wetini’s view.
“ The fish stocks on the west coast of the North
Island, particularly snapper, have never been
better in the nine years since I have run a charter
operation out of Kawhia,” says Mr Donald who
operates his charter business Three 0 Eight Fish-
ing Ltd on his boat Crazy Horse.
“Many things contribute to this, such as the
weather meaning there are many days when
charter boats and recreational fishermen cannot
get out to fish.
“The number of people fishing is also far lower
on the west coast than the east coast – the main
reason being there’s not a lot of charter operators
on the west coast compared to the east coast.”
In terms of monitoring the area, Mr Donald
says if snapper stocks were to decline then MPI
would step in and lower the quota number (limit)
as they did on the east coast.
“Charter operators provide a great service to
those who want to have a day out on the water
and they also make sure that the fish stocks are
looked after because at the end of the day it is in
their interest to look after the resource,” he says.
“For example I encourage, in fact I offer, a free
day’s fishing if people put back snapper over 20
“ They have their photo taken and the fish is
released and then they get their money back.
“I do this so as the big breeding snapper have
a chance to do their thing.
“After all, you don’t see farmers sending in
their stud bulls to the works, only to put a weaner
bull out with their stud cows.”
Mr Donald says crayfish are also thriving on
the west coast as there is no commercial opera-
tions from north of New Plymouth to Manukau.
“It is every person’s right to go fishing, own
a charter business with however many boats he
chooses to have, or to run a commercial fish-
ing business so long as he or she does not break
the law,” he says.
“One must stop and think if it was not for
the commercial fishing boats how would you
be able to buy fish from the local fish shop or
“Food for thought.”
“Chop the quota by half”
KAWHIA charter business operator David Donald who has been operating for the past nine
years says fish stocks on the west coast of the North Island, particularly snapper, “have never
been better”. PHOTO SUPPLIED
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