Out of the bay and into the frying pan

CHARLOTTE SQUIRE
Last updated 12:19 21/02/2013
Maree and Doug Satherley
CHARLOTTE SQUIRE
WELL HOOKED: Maree and Doug Satherley of Motueka at Tarakohe with the brim they caught after a morning's fishing in Golden Bay.

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Golden Bay is the place to catch fish right now with stocks on the increase and snapper and blue cod being caught in abundance says Port Golden Bay's harbour manager Alan Kilgour.

"We've had a very good snapper season. That was before Christmas. They come in early November and leave in March. There were good catches of snapper. There's excellent cod fishing at Separation Point and there's lot of tarakihi being caught," said Mr Kilgour, who has managed Port Golden Bay [Tarakohe] for 10 years.

"Quite a few kingfish are being caught. They're a good sports fish. They're being caught around the mussel farms and Separation Point. It's been interesting that snapper fisheries are getting better and better each year.

"There have been many small snapper caught off the breakwater. And kids have been getting plenty of spotties and herrings. Families can come down and have a good day's fishing.

He said better fishing conditions were offsetting the decline in scallops, which had dropped away after the severe flooding in December 2011.

"It was all doom and gloom, and we've had a huge downturn in boats going scalloping but it's been made up by people coming fishing,' he said.

He also thought Golden Bay's mussel farms were creating a good habitat for fish stock.

New Zealand Recreational Fishing Council President Geoff Rowling confirmed there were greater numbers of snapper in Golden Bay and that their presence was supporting other fish species to thrive in the bay.

"There's no doubt it's been an excellent season for snapper. The evidence is pretty much overwhelming from a recreational perspective.

"It's because the snapper have been breeding successfully since 2000. We've had warmer temperatures in the top of the South Island since then, which means better conditions for snapper to breed.

"Historically, the general rule of thumb with snapper was we had one good breeding season every 10 years but since 2000 we've had a rise in temperatures.

"There's a lot of talk about climate change and it may be that temperatures in Tasman and Golden Bay are higher than 15 years ago," he said.

But it would only take a slight temperature change for snapper stocks to drop again.

Mr Rowling said that of the "101 influential" factors involved in the increase of snapper, the commercial fishing quota was significant. Commercial fishermen "can't afford to continually over-catch their snapper quota or they get sent a bill.

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This is creating a huge expansion in recreational fishing".

Mr Rowling cautioned the fishing industry to maintain its sustainability.

"It's good they're going that way but the trick now is to ensure that we don't have carte blanche quotas allocated to commercial fishermen who ask for larger quotas."

- © Fairfax NZ News

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