Thousands of snapper stink out holiday spot

Thousands of dead fish washing ashore near the Coromandel have tourists and residents holding their noses, and conservation staff scratching their heads as to how they got there.

Locals and those staying in campgrounds along Fantail Bay and Port Jackson in the north Coromandel said the fish began washing ashore on Tuesday.

The Ministry of Primary Industries is investigating, but said they could "only assume" what the cause might be without more information.

The ministry’s district compliance manager for Waikato and Bay of Plenty district, Brendon Mikkelsen, said they had received a couple of reports from people onshore, but needed to hear from anyone who might have seen anything out at sea.

"There is really sketchy information so far, and what's interesting is we have received no observations in terms of the fish out at sea."

Mikkelsen said the fish, believed mostly to be snapper, would have likely been drifting in that state for a number of days if they were only washing up ashore now.

"They would indeed be looking pretty gruesome and smell bad, which isn't nice for the residents," he said.

Operators at the Port Jackson Conservation Campsite said it looked as though the fish were dumped from a net haul, but Mikkelson said that was hard to confirm at this stage.

"We would really like some more information from boaties or any commercial fishing operation in the area who could possibly link this to a boat," he said.