The Minister recently announced that the fishery will reopen on 1st April 2011 with new management rules in place. Geoff Rowling says what he and some of the recreational fishers in the region think about the new rules:
“Despite having tried for months fisheries minister Phil Heatley refuses to meet with locals to discuss the crazy new rules for the Marlborough Sounds blue cod fishery. He refuses to accept the rules are flawed and will see the setting up of a concession fishery for commercial and introduce rules that effectively make criminals out of locals who legally catch bigger fish in areas outside the actual management area.
It is absolutely crazy to demand amateur fishers put any fish outside of the very narrow slot between 30 and 35 cm back in the water while virtually all of the sounds remain open to commercial fishing. How the hell you can justify us putting fish back for sustainability reasons while a commercial cod potter or trawler has open access defies belief.
But wait it gets worse. If fishers venture out into the open waters outside of the management area and legally take fish of a larger size, they are not allowed to take those fish home through the controlled area. This can only be described as a disgusting abuse of regulatory power by a Government who has rolled back regulations in favour of commercial fishers in other areas.
We are extremely disappointed in the way the minister and his department have bastardised the ideas still under discussion by the amateur working group and claim they are re-opening the fishery when in fact they are doing the exact opposite.”