NZ Fishing World home
NZ Fishing World

Is bigger really gooder?

08 March 2016
Is bigger really gooder?

As headline stories go, last month's 'blue cod fillets in the fridge' piece got the sabres rattling more than most. Filtering the noise out, three lines of opinion seemed most relevant and worthy of further comment.

The first two, a New Zealander's right to enjoy a fresh caught dinner on board a vessel, and, the many ambiguous statements offered by the Ministry of Primary Industry guidelines, have been covered in detail by this media channel and others.

For me, it's the third thread of discussion which offers the most scope for deeper thought.

The mechanisms by which sensitive populations, such as the Marlborough Sounds blue cod fishery and others are managed seems to have missed public scrutiny.

In New Zealand, when a fish species is deemed under unsustainable pressure, we respond in two ways. Reducing bag limits and increasing the legal size of the species in questions.

I don't generally have issues with reduced bag limits, provided the reduction is applied evenly across all the stakeholders as a percentage. That is, if the recreational limit on a certain species is ten and it is dropped to eight, the same 20% reduction should be applied to the commercial take.

However, the constant increasing of the legal take size does warrant more thought.

My observation, through years of private and charter fishing, is that as the legal fish size increases, so does the fishing pressure in terms of the total number of fish captured and released to fill an ice bin with takeable fish.

Surely this isn't a surprise. As much as media organisations like to extoll the virtues of fishing for sport rather than the pantry, the majority of fishermen still cling to the need to take home a good catch to justify their investment in time and money on the water. And they have every right to. Fishing for the table benefits society in many ways beyond savings at the supermarket.

We also know that taking a larger average fish from a population can cause irreversible damage to the population's gene pool. Although it may not have happened yet it is theoretically possible to remove a species' capacity to grow over a certain size by literally eating all the fish which carry genes for larger growth. It is primarily for this reason that I have long encouraged the release of larger fish. Even if these big fish are past prime breeding age, if they are still capable of contributing to the gene pool they should be left to do so.

If the inevitable outcome of an increased legal fish size is more baited hooks in the water for a longer time (increased fishing pressure), and possible damage to the species gene pool, shouldn't we be looking at alternative management tools?

To that end, if an angler keeps the first seven smaller snapper he or she catches and then stops fishing isn't that a better outcome the catching 30 to take home seven medium to large-sized fish prime breeders?

We also fail to recognize exponentially higher natural mortality rate of small fish compared to medium sized fish, which are less likely to fall victim to predation.

On the topic of fish mortality,  it may be worth looking more closely at our fishing techniques as a management tool. If we accept that fish survive catch and release more successfully if not gut hooked why not legislate for less invasive circle hook and lure techniques, making them mandatory?

Anyway, hopefully this gets you thinking.

Related posts

Daiwa Certate spinning Reel
Daiwa Certates have been one of our favourite reels over the years. Smooth running, well sealed and extremely reliable under harsh conditions, the new Certate looks to be another brilliant offering. Here's the latest information from Daiwa...
Learning to dive
Fishos spend countless hours on the water but most of us tend not to get in and discover the whole other world under the waves. John Durrant fulfilled a long-held ambition to obtain his PADI open water certificate and quickly reaped the rewards that diving can bring.
How charters catch kingfish
Charter companies are the professionals in our game so it makes sense that we should keep an eye on what they do. NZ Fishing World has the inside scoop as Lionel Korach of charter firm Memorymakers gives us his insight to catching kingfish.
To iki or not to iki, that is the question
Since the late 1980's when the market for snapper exports to Japan really took off, the iki jime method of killing fish spread and it has now become de rigueur for many amateur anglers.
What draws us to fishing?
There is no greater participant sport in the world than fishing but what is it that draws so many millions of people into it? At entry level, it’s easy and affordable to get into in both fresh and saltwater fishing.
A fascination with fishing
For many anglers the complexities of consistent and productive fishing are a mystery.
All Related

See Also

True Kit inflatable boats
True Kit boats make very cool little fishing platforms, at much the same cost as a kayak. Check out a few features and benefits with owner of the company Rod Dawson.
Catch Waterwings - bling for your bling
Catch fishing have invented a new way to add a bit of extra vavavoom! to your lures. Check it out here...
New Catch Beady Eye Kabura Jig
There's a new weapon from Catch Fishing. Check out the latest kabura jig that will catch just about any predatory fish out there. We've had great success with this extremely effective lure and it's well worth having a few in the tackle box, especially if it's a tough day. Easy to fish, and effective all year round, the new Catch Beady Eye Kabura is a must have if you like your lures.
Fishing with Venturer Charters off Kawhia / Raglan
NZ Fishing World presents a quick look at the fishing off the west coast of NZ's North Island with Rob Fitzgerald from Venturer Fishing Charters. Heading out with Rob is a fantastic safe, and secure way of crossing the infamous Raglan Bar and getting into some awesome fishing action.
Landing a Swordfish
Big Game
Check out a little video log we made a few years ago featuring Edward Uhai Lee landing his first sword. Drop number 1 on a picture perfect day out off the mighty Manukau a few clicks. These are definitely strong beasts, and took a bit of grunting to get this one on deck.
Catch Deep V jig
Here's a slow pitch jig that can either be mechanically jigged or slow pitch fished to save your energy. Check out the new Catch Deep V in action. This is a great jig for just about any conditions and the special V shaped keel gives it extra hang time in the strike zone.
All Posts

Drop NZ Fishing World a line!

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.