THE Stewart Island community will struggle to manage the disposal of rotting filleted blue cod frames on shore should the introduction of new rules banning filleting at sea come into force.
Following concerns raised about the declining blue cod populations in New Zealand, Fisheries New Zealand has released a National Blue Cod Strategy to manage the blue cod industry.
Among the new rules being proposed, recreational fishers will be required to bring their catch back to land whole so they could be measured to ensure they complied with the legal size limit.
At present recreational fishers fillet their catch at sea and throw the waste overboard to be eaten by birds and other fish.
Stewart Island recreational fisherman and Mataitai Advisory Committee member Martin Pepers, QSM, said he supported the protection of the blue cod fishery, but the new rules were not a good fit for the Stewart Island community.
If visitors were required to bring the fish into the bay whole and fillet them at their motel rooms or holiday homes, they would dispose of the rotting filleted frames in rubbish bins and around the bay, which would attract rats, he said.
“I don’t think [the law] has been well thought out for this community.
It was a “typical standardised law”, he said. “One law for all is not right for all communities.
“Unique communities, like Stewart Island, need unique solutions.”
Invercargill recreational fisherman Mike Stenton agreed.
“[The frames] will end up in the tip, in people’s backyards or on the side of the road,” he said.
“What’s better – [the waste] going back in the food chain or being dumped as more rubbish on land and potentially increasing the rat problem? It just doesn’t make sense.”
Stewart Island’s Leask Bay Charters owner/operator Gordon (Fluff) Leask said there were no facilities in Bluff or Stewart Island where people could fillet their fish and dispose of the waste.
It would deter his customers if they had to leave the boat with a whole fish they then had to fillet themselves, he said.
Also, it was preferable to wash the fish in salt water, he said. Fish washed in fresh water deteriorated faster and it changed the taste of the fish.
“The sea is the best place to put fish waste, where it is food for native birds and other fish.”
Fisheries New Zealand fisheries management director Stuart Anderson said it was important blue cod were brought back to shore in a measurable state so Fishery officers could ensure the fish caught were about the minimum legal size of 33cm.
The requirement to fillet blue cod on land was still under review. Another option being considered was allowing the partial filleting or processing of blue cod while still ensuring the fish were in a measurable state, he said.
Consultation on this rule was carried out in January to March this year, with final decisions expected to be made later in the year by the Minister of Fisheries, Mr Anderson said.