Cod fillets transport ban will be enforced

PENNY WARDLE
Last updated 07:14 26/12/2013

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Fisheries officers say they will still enforce a ban on carrying filleted blue cod in the Marlborough Sounds in spite of a district court ruling last week that went against them.

District court Judge John Strettell found that blue cod caught by Matthew Quentin Cox were of a legal size.

His only fault was transporting them, filleted, through the Sounds by boat from a bach with no road access to Waikawa Marina.

Fisheries regulations prevent fishermen from filleting blue cod on the water, unless they are to be eaten immediately.

Ministry for Primary Industries Nelson-Marlborough compliance manager Ian Bright said the ruling last week did not license fishers to transport filleted blue cod through the Sounds.

"People understand that compliance officers need to see intact fish to measure the size," he said.

"This fisher went to a lot of trouble to prove to the court his filleted fish were legally caught."

Last weekend, the first of the new cod fishing season, compliance in the Sounds had been excellent with no problems picked up, Mr Bright said.

Compliance officers would be out on the water during the holidays and throughout summer.

Bay of Many Coves bach owner Tim Newsham, of Spring Creek, hoped fisheries officers would use common sense before throwing the book at people with filleted fish on board.

Given limited blue cod stocks, he hoped people would catch no more fish than they could eat that day. Realistically, they often ended up with a few surplus fish after eating steak for a night.

Freezing the extra was an option but the quality deteriorated, he said. Taking a few frozen fillets home should be OK for people who had only boat access to their baches.

"Fisheries officers should recognise a boat with an extra one or two filleted fish on board is a very different situation to 6-7 kilograms," Mr Newsham said.

The new rules made it hard to give a few fillets of cod away to someone who hadn't had any luck fishing, and might be heading home by boat. Transporting fish whole was not an option because they would deteriorate if left unfilleted for longer than 12 hours. 

REGULATIONS

Blue cod regulations for the Marlborough Sounds Area are:

No fisher may possess more than two blue cod.

The fish must be 30-35 centimetres long.

No more than two hooks may be used per line.

Blue cod must remain whole or gutted at all times while on the water, unless they are about to be eaten on board. 

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- The Marlborough Express

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