FISHING SURVEYS COMING TO A BOAT RAMP NEAR YOUWhether you catch fish for a feed or buy it from your local market or fish and chip shop, there’s one thing that’s clear – we all want to know that our seafood comes from healthy fisheries that will continue to provide delicious kaimoana for future generations.Each year, NIWA undertakes boat ramp surveys to gather information on behalf of Fisheries New Zealand about recreational fishing practices and catch from popular fishing locations around the country. Photo: Stuart Mackay — NIWA. At Fisheries New Zealand, we’re always building on what we know about Aotearoa’s oceans and fisheries, and this includes improving our understanding of recreational fishing activity.We know that around 600,000 people, or approximately 13 percent of New Zealand’s population, go recreational fishing in our waters annually.Each year, NIWA gathers information on behalf of Fisheries New Zealand about recreational fishing practices and catch from popular fishing locations around the country. This summer they’ll have a team of people, many of them passionate fishers and members of local fishing clubs, doing interviews at boat ramps around the motu.Fisheries New Zealand Principal Scientist Ian Tuck says the work provides an important source of information about recreational fishing.“We’ve had boat ramp surveys since the early 1990s – it’s one of the ways we get data on recreational fishing activity. This complements other research like the National Panel Survey, which is our largest recreational fishing survey, and area-specific surveys where more detailed information is needed, such as sampling of catch during the recent recreational pāua season in Kaikōura.“The interviewers will be asking fishers about their catch, and this information will help us determine the amount of fish in the area, and what catch and size limits should be.“Our boat ramp interview days are spread throughout the year, on weekends, and midweek days to get a representative coverage of the fishery.”This study, led by NIWA Fisheries Scientist Dr Jade Maggs, will focus mainly on the northeastern coast of the North Island, as well as parts of the west coast and some areas of the South Island.“All information collected is kept private. It’s only used to help inform how New Zealand’s fisheries are managed. We don’t share people’s secret fishing spots. We would just like to know a little about what you caught, and how you caught it,” says Dr Maggs.“The interviewers are not there to enforce the law, but only to collect scientific information. They will be asking fishers if they’d like to participate. If they agree, the interviewer will ask about their fishing activity, including what they caught that day, and take measurements of the fish caught.”NIWA staff gathering the information will be clearly identified at the ramps or on the dock. Photo: Stuart Mackay – NIWA.NIWA Chief Scientist Dr Richard O’Driscoll says knowing how many fish are taken out of the ocean is an important piece of the research puzzle.“This includes the recreational catch, which in some areas is as high or higher than the commercial take for species like snapper and blue cod.“These surveys are a vital part of NIWA’s research on recreational fisheries that is funded by Fisheries New Zealand. NIWA began collecting data in 1991, so we’re building a valuable long-term dataset of population changes. But from year to year, we have different projects that require additional data.“We encourage fishers to get involved with the survey – it’s easy, anonymous, and you’ll be providing information to help manage your local fishery so it can continue to provide for future generations.”
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