Let’s choose to manage our fisheries to have more fish in the sea:
Historically NZ's fisheries management decisions have been based on trying to keep fish stocks at just 20% of natural abundance!
Managing for 50% natural abundance would more than double the amount of marine life in NZ waters!
Generally, when fishstocks are fished down to low levels of abundance, the older and bigger fish disappear. We now know that these big fish play a critical role in the health of our marine ecosystems.
Fish would live longer, grow bigger, ecosystems would function better...
Snorkelling and diving would be more exciting...
Fishing would be more fun...
The current primary goal of NZ fisheries management is to sustain commercial fisheries. However, commercial fisheries can be economically sustainable at very low levels of abundance, and historically our fisheries management decisions have been based on trying to keep fishstocks at 20% of natural abundance!
These low levels of abundance of our key fish species hve had serious flow-on effects to the entire marine ecosystem they are part of, and haveessentially depleted our sea of much of its life.
Generally, when fishstocks are fished down to low levels of abundance, the older and bigger fish disappear. We now know that these big fish play a critical role in the health of our marine ecosystems. Firstly, they produce more offspring. They also keep other species from getting out of control. Big snapper and big crays for instance are able to eat kina. Without them kina numbers explode and they eat out the kelp forests, turning large areas into barren rock where little else survives.
Managing fisheries for higher abundance will recognise that the species people like to fish are part of a wider marine community in which all species impact on each other, and that marine ecosystems operate best at their full complexity.
Until now fisheries management decisions have only considered the needs of people who fish, and yet the abundance of fish in the sea is also important to the 4.2 million New Zealanders who don’t fish. The low abundance of fish severely constrains underwater tourism opportunities, recreational divers and snorkelers have little to see at their local reefs, and the aspirations of all kiwis who believe in the value of flourishing and healthy ecosystems are not met.
Fish Forever encourages all New Zealanders to take an active interest in fisheries management, and encourages those who manage our fisheries to manage them for all New Zealanders. More fish in the sea is better for everyone.