Does angler pressure preclude catching fish
A group of South Island freshwater anglers have formed a group called Kiwi Anglers First.
The group is concerned at the decline of angling in the back country rivers and the building of a fishing lodge by foreign owners exclusively for foreign fishers.
What is Fish and Game position on this?
The suggested hierarchy or versions of it have been bandied around for some time and is one of the reasons for the promotion of the fishing guides licence and a more formalised guides structure which Fish & Game have been trying to develop with DoC and the Guides Association.
Unfortunately it goes back and forth with more and more consultation and no finalisation.
The group is promoting a four-step plan first mooted by Nick King, an angling guide who has witnessed at first-hand the pillaging of our fisheries.
The plan is simple, indeed self-explanatory. It depends upon a ranking of interests within the New Zealand freshwater fishery, and the development of management strategies in accord with this order of priorities.
It is not, by any measure, an extreme approach: it does not seek a ban on commercial guiding, or the indiscriminate exclusion of overseas anglers.
But it does require that limits be set, in accord with the interests of New Zealanders.
The Four Step Plan
Picture the component parts of New Zealand angling in order of status. Once identified it is a matter of understanding that if any part lower in rank negatively affects anything above, new restrictions would apply.
1. The Fishery.It is a basic, fair model that’s impossible to refute the hierarchy. It is suggested that the nuts and bolts to make this plan work would be developed by Fish & Game in consultation with kiwi anglers, as have all the other rules that we have in place today.
2. Citizens and Residents of New Zealand.
3. New Zealand Commercial Guides.
4. Non Resident Anglers.
But anglers are a strange bunch. They set up an egalitarian angling management system in NZ to escape from the ‘Private Waters’ of Britain and Europe, and as soon as their favourite spots get fished by other anglers, they propose emulating it!
There is something very Presbyterian in the anglers psyche. They would much rather buy into the Fish & Game management disease of managing the fishery by managing what anglers are (or more often, are not) allowed to do, despite abundant research demonstrating that even in the worst case scenarios, anglers will only catch about 10-12% of the fish present. They will blame anything rather than acknowledge that factors other than fishermen have the greatest influence on fisheries, and perhaps they should get off their bums and do something about it!
Does angler pressure preclude catching fish? No, it does not! Similarly, do I think that creating an elitist NZ fishery will make fishing more enjoyable, or improve the ‘quality’? No I do not!
One of the greatest lessons I have learnt on riverbanks is not to see other anglers as a threat, but an opportunity. I try and make a point of engaging with other anglers whenever possible, and to be as helpful as I can. It has made fishing a far richer experience.
All that having been said, one aspect of fishing that I agree does need urgent attention is the commercial guides. The rudest, most obnoxious fishermen that I have ever met on the water, have been commercial guides with clients. Their behaviour, and their practice of buying access to create private fisheries, needs addressing urgently.
The egalitarian ethos and thus laws, are meant for NZ ’s society, i.e. Kiwis.