Marlborough Express - Welcome announcement of new blue cod rules

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The recent announcement of new blue cod rules for the Marlborough Sounds is a significant step forward in ensuring our unique part of the world, and all its resources, is available to future generations.

From 20 December, the contentious slot and transit rules for blue cod caught in the Marlborough Sounds no longer apply. 

The new rules are fair and, importantly, they are simple: There is no maximum size and the minimum size is 33cm. The bag limit is two blue cod.

These rules apply over both the Marlborough Sounds and the Challenger East area which, again, makes them easier to follow.

When the announcement was made in Picton by Minister for Primary Industries Hon Nathan Guy, it was met by applause from members of the community. 

Their celebrations were well deserved:  Along with many others, they have voiced strong feedback on this issue for some time, standing up for what they believe is the best outcome for the sustainable future of their own backyard.

Of course, the conversation is not over.

There are those who have views on what the minimum size should be: I've heard many different opinions from very experienced people. But we had to land somewhere and this has occurred after considerable consultation and scientific evidence.

Going forward, the Ministry of Primary Industries will continue to monitor and review health of our blue cod fishery under the new rules and make adjustments as required.

But the rule changes are a leap in the right direction. It was very clear the 'slot' and transit rules caused a great deal of angst and personally, as a long time recreational fisher I agreed they were not working.

With larger fish being caught, put back and not surviving, the approach was not benefitting the sustainability of the fishery and that, of course, is the bottom line.

The purpose of these changes is to ensure people can get out and catch a feed of fish now and into the future, but constraining those who want to fill the freezer.

We have seen what happens when we take too much: Nobody wants to return to closing the fishery as happened in 2008, due to dwindling blue cod numbers.

Also being closely monitored in the Marlborough Sounds is the health of our scallop fishery, which is currently the subject of an in-season assessment. 

A number of Marlborough Sounds organisations, groups and individuals believe the current management system for Marlborough scallops is not working. 

I look forward to seeing the results of the assessment and continuing to work with these groups and stakeholders to find a way forward. 

As with the blue cod, any decision made about the scallop harvest in the Marlborough 

Sounds will be based on the best available science.

It is imperative that together, we manage our resources well to ensure a sustainable future.