Blue cod limit to be tightly enforced

BILL MOORE
Last updated 13:00 20/12/2012

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The controversial Marlborough Sounds recreational blue cod fishery reopened today with a warning to fishers that they must observe the rules or face the consequences.

Ministry for Primary Industries district compliance manager Ian Bright said fishery officers would be out making sure recreational fishers followed the rules.

The fishery has been closed since the end of August to allow the cod to spawn, and will remain open until the end of August 2013.

Mr Bright said it was important for the future of blue cod in the Sounds that fishers knew and applied the rules. Fishery officers were keen to help but the rules would be enforced. Fines of $250 to $500 per offence could be imposed, and serious breaches could result in confiscation of gear, boats and vehicles.

The key rules are:

No fisher may possess more than two blue cod, and the fish must be between 30 and 35 centimetres in length.

A two-hook per line limit.

A requirement that blue cod must remain in a whole or gutted state at all times while on the water.

No fishing around Maud Island.

Mr Bright said fishers staying in baches and aboard boats were not exempt. "They may land or transport by sea only two blue cod each, either whole or gutted and between 30 and 35 centimetres on any day."

He said adult blue cod were showing signs of recovery in the Sounds, but there were still issues with the health of the fishery.

"The rules are intended to support reproduction as well as an increase in numbers."

The 30-35cm "slot fishery" has drawn fire from many experienced recreational fishers who say that it is leading to a high mortality of large fish, but the Government has ruled out any changes to the regime in the short term.

Mr Bright also issued a reminder that scallops must be landed in the shell.

"There is a misconception that if scallops are landed and shucked they can later be placed back on a vessel and transported by sea to a point of landing. This is incorrect and the only exception is that scallops may be opened at sea for consumption on a boat."

In that case they are deducted from the daily limit.

Anyone seeing suspicious fishing activity should call 0800 POACHER (0800 476 224). For information on recreational limits visit fish.govt.nz.

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- The Nelson Mail

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