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What does Fish Forever do?

We promote and support marine protection initiatives within, near and beyond New Zealand's Bay of Islands.
We meet the last Thursday of every month in Paihia and welcome new members.
Please get in touch This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. | 027 243-1777

Help these guys grow old in the
Maunganui Bay / Deep Water Cove Rahui!

Support the rollover of the Rahui for another two years!



put the big ones backno fishingdolphins in distressvol fishing accordsedimentationREPORT MARINE PESTS

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Reversing the decline

troubleThe Bay of Islands sparkles on the surface, but underneath life is in trouble. The teeming marine life that greeted past generations is now a shadow of its former self. There are many things we can do to reverse the decline. Let's all make changes on the water and on land that will help to rebuild what we love. Future generations must be able to enjoy Tangaroa's abundance. [Read more...]

 Some of the marine protection tools that can start to reverse the decline:

No-take areas deliver

Like we are already beginning to see in the Maunganui Bay rahui, no-take areas are the quickest way to enable marine life to thrive - for recovery, spillover, education, science, tourism and a fantastic snorkelling exprience! [Read more...]

No-take areas boost reproduction

New research confirms adult snapper in the Leigh Marine Reserve boost snapper abundance in surrounding waters. This small marine reserve is punching well above its weight, contributing 10% of juvenile snapper between the Hen and Chicks and Whangaparoa.  [Read more...]




Hapu can lead they way using tools in the Customary Fisheries Legislation to rebuild local fish stocks. Ngati Kuta and Patukeha have done this well with the Maunganui Bay Rahui. Ngā Hapū o Taiamai ki Te Marangi established the 20 sq km Te Puna Mātaitai which excludes commercial fishing. We look forward to the kaitiaki setting bylaws to manage the recreational fishing in this area. [Read more...]


Manage for more fish


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 mean more fish, bigger fish. [Read more...]

Voluntary fishing accord


Our ever increasing population and technology has put enormous pressure on fish stocks in the Bay of Islands. This is our new reality.  Here's some simple actions all of us who fish can take to conserve our stocks. [Read more...]

Dolphins in distress!


We're loving them to death! In the Bay of Islands 75% of calves die before reaching adulthood... [Read more...]

Sedimentation is a killer


Things we do on land affects the amount of fish in the sea. Loss of sediment-trapping wetlands means 500,000 tonnes of silt surges down our rivers and out into the Bay of Islands each year. It's a silent killer smothering shellfish beds and kelp forests, and turning rock seabeds to mud. [Read more...]

Keep marine pests out


Like possums and stoats on land, marine pests have huge potential to wreak havoc on our native marine life. Let's keep them out of the Bay of Islands! [Read more...]


Good reads:


no take vs partial protection

put the big ones back


bring on the science

where to see lots of fish


know where you can dump




New Zealand boasts one of the best fisheries management models in the world. But leading edge as it may be, our Quota Management System (QMS) is more about exploiting fisheries resources, albeit sustainably,  than it is about protecting natural biodiversity.

The approach is equivalent to saying ‘let’s farm every inch of our land surface, and not bother about allowing any of it to remain wild and unexploited’. We wouldn’t tolerate this on land, yet no-take areas in the sea have no place as of right under the QMS.

Fortunately we do have some no-take zonesbut they are widely scattered and most are small. Yet these are crucial pockets of the ocean where life can flourish and maintain or regain its natural state. So, as well as well-managed fisheries, we need more of these areas of protection: 

• for the sake of protection of biodiversity
• to ensure that we have research areas that will inform fisheries management
• to ensure that New Zealand's reputation for natural beauty endures

Getting the balance right
Fisheries management is all about productivity of the fishery from an economic standpoint. The goal is about maximising yield (read ‘money’), and not about maintaining a healthy, natural, balanced marine ecosystem with species of all ages and sizes present. There is a complex tale associated with New Zealand's QMS. That tale is about virgin biomass (original unfished stock) and maximum sustainable yield (MSY). The QMS involves the direct control of harvest levels for individual species or stocks of species. Because the QMS can only at anything but broad spatial scales, there is the constant reality of localised depletion, as illustrated below.

Maintaining a healthy fishery is not the same thing as maintaining a healthy ocean.
Fisheries management in New Zealand requires that we do not fish stocks down below a size that supports their MSY. In theory, the MSY is the largest amount of fish you can take OUT of the ocean while still leaving sufficient behind to ensure enough fish to produce new generations to maintain the fishery. This is approximately 23% of the original unfished stock for such fin fish as snapper.

The problem is in the perception.
The key word here is "productivity": the biomass is maintained at a very carefully balanced level to ensure maximum productivity which means, for most fisheries, a very large number of young fish that have just finished their growth-spurt into adulthood. Maximum productivity does NOT mean a balanced spectrum of large, slow-growing grand-dames and sires (the ones some of the rec fishers put back!) as well as these youngsters.

How can no-take areas help ensure that a balance is maintained?
One way is to provide a proportion of our marine environment types with sufficient protection from extraction of resources and from discharges of contaminants. This would enable harvested stocks and the biological communities they are associated with can recover to a state closer to their natural character.

The RMA has required (since 1973)that the natural character of the coastal environment be preserved and protected from inappropriate use and development. However, in the marine part of the coastal environment, the Minister of Conservation and the Regional Councils have their hands tied by a section that prohibits them from exercising their powers in any way that might constrain the management of fisheries. (So we wonder why the 2011 State of Environment report on the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park highlights continuing decline of aquatic life and its habitats in the Gulf?)

Luckily we still have the vintage 1971 Marine Reserves Act that enables qualified community groups to apply for their own no-take marine reserves, as long as they avoid undue adverse effects on commercial fishing, adjoining landowners and recreation. So how might such reserves also contribute to redressing the balance and mitigating some of the effects of extreme maximization of fishery stock harvest?

Some of the gene-pool impacts that intensive fishing pressure can have is to select for fish that have either or both earlier age at onset of maturity and smaller size at maturity. There is also scientific debate about the effects of intensive harvest pressure (and conversely marine reserves) on the behavior and genetics associated with “site-fidelity” (stay-at-home individuals) versus “vagrancy” for the adults of some species where the spectrum of behavior suggests at least part of it is under genetic influence.

Put simply it looks like large marine reserves might help select for individuals with delayed onset of maturity (i.e. allows for growing faster and larger) and for greater site-fidelity (i.e. vagrants run away and get caught before reproducing). This would help offset some of the adverse effects on gene pools of intensive harvest pressure.


Latest news

Wrecked Reefs by John Booth - Russell Review Article

Just where does the buck stop for shallow-reef kelp loss in the Bay of Islands? It has crept up on us. The process has been slow and steady –…

Bay of Islands Recreational Fishing Report - John Booth

Recreational fishing in the Bay of Islands: intense pressure contributes to stress on fishstocks and to local ecological degradation. By John Booth,…

Kina and their effect on algal communities in the Bay of Islands

Rocky shores around New Zealand have areas in water depths of between about three to eleven metres where there is little (and sometimes no) kelp. In…

Maunganui Bay rahui rolled for a further two years!

A huge thank you to Ngati Kuta and Patukeha hapu for intitiating and extending this rahui. The area has now been protected since 2010. The Ministry…

Join Fish Forever

nudi spongeAll of us with an interest and love of Tangaroa, let's work together and take on the challenge of marine protection for the Bay.

Annual Membership Rates:
Student/concession - $15.00
Affiliate (please name organistation) - $15.00
Individual - $25.00
Family - $35.00

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