New rule for casting set nets applauded

Recreational set netters will once again be able to cast their nets along the top of the South Island east coast from January 3.

The Ministry for Primary Industries announced yesterday that recreational fishers will be able to set nets along the top of Marlborough's east coast and the eastern side of Arapawa Island into Tory Channel between January 1 and April 30 each year.

The opening of the season in 2013 will be delayed until January 3 because of administration.

The rules are an exemption to the ministry ban on all recreational set netting in the area introduced in 2008 because of concerns about dolphins being caught in the nets.

Ministry acting director general Scott Gallacher said the additional rules for recreational fishers were designed to control a risk to Hector's dolphins that might use the area to go between populations to the north and south.

There were no known populations of Hector's dolphins living in the defined area.

"Commercial set netting is already permitted in the area, and this is an extension of these rights to recreational fishers for the first four months of the year."

Recreational fisherman can only set their nets within 200m of the high-water mark and stay with their nets at all times.

They will also be allowed to use flatfish set nets between Ruakaka Bay and Deiffenbach Point in Queen Charlotte Sound from April 1 to September 30.

Marlborough Recreational Fishing Association chairman Tony Orman said yesterday the association was delighted that the ministry "acknowledged" the right of the recreational public to set 60-metre nets. However, he was disappointed they were limited to four months when commercial and customary fishers could use nets during the whole year.

"The discrimination remains against the recreational fishing public.

"The imagined risk to dolphins is a myth because there are no records of dolphins dying in recreational nets on the east Marlborough coastline.

"Are they going to apply the rule of staying with the nets to every set net, or just recreational?"

The association urged recreational fishermen not to set their nets overnight and to lift nets every few hours, he said.

For further information go to and look for the section on closed and restricted areas under recreational fishery management.

The Marlborough Express