Historic reminder: New Zealand Parliamentary Debate, December 02, 1998
CONSERVATION (PROTECTION OF TROUT AS A NON-COMMERCIAL SPECIES) AMENDMENT BILL : Second Reading
Hon. NICK SMITH (Minister of Conservation): It is the view of the Government that the trout fishery that New Zealand has is of huge importance. It is of huge importance to those more than 2,000 (sic) anglers who enjoy it as their pastime. It is also critically important to New Zealand’s visitor industry, where over $150 million a year is earned for this country from those who come to New Zealand to enjoy that tremendous trout fishery.
Rt Hon. PAUL EAST (NZ National): Our trout fisheries are fragile, they are a national asset, they earn millions of dollars in overseas funds, they attract many visitors from all around the world, and they are considered widely as being amongst the best, if not the best, wild trout recreational fisheries in the world, and it is something that we have to protect jealously.
THEY COME OVER HERE, THEY TAKE OUR TROUT, WITH THEIR FUNNY FOOD/ACCENTS/HAIR* (*delete as appropriate)
Here’s how trout fishing is managed in other countries, to compare how we manage our local and visiting anglers. I am grateful to Robin Gilbert, an overseas angler who comes here, as well as many other competing locations, for his fishing and who has provided me with much of the following text, as well as a stimulating discussion on future management of our fisheries, founded on something better than just pricing people out.
In the UK there is no distinction between local and visiting anglers, nor between coarse anglers (those lowly breeds who use worms, maggots and sit on chairs when fishing) and us refined trout anglers. An annual licence is purchased for 27 GB pounds (NZ$54) which entitles you to fish on public water, which is predominantly where rivers run through conurbations. You then need to purchase a day-ticket or membership to fish privately owned stretches of water, which can vary from GBP 50 per annum to GBP 5,000 per day. Some rivers and still waters have beats or pegs to separate out anglers and angling syndicates. They often allow you to buy a designated day each week (a full rod) or fortnight (a half rod) on a stretch of river, again to eliminate angler encounters with other anglers.
In Cape Town in South Africa there are some small rivers/streams in the mountains to the north which hold small populations of wild brown or rainbow trout. The fishery is run by the Cape Piscatorial Society with rivers are split into beats – no more than two anglers per beat and each beat can only be booked by one party. Availability is checked online via their web-site and payment is made by electronic transfer. Pressure is thus managed with most anglers local, perhaps because it is a small fishery with small fish. In theory the rivers though could be booked more or less continuously, so there is no means of regulating the number of days a beat would /could be fished. Generally though the local angling population eases off the fishery in the summer months as the fish get very stressed due to the hot weather and catching them could possibly kill them in these conditions. The fishery is strictly catch and release.
In Germany it’s pretty much like in England. Every stretch of river or water is owned or leased by someone, whether it be an angling club or private with some offering day-tickets for visitors and non-members. A lot of holiday regions here have stretches of rivers which are owned/operated by the local council and offer fishing to tourists. Here you can obtain a day ticket at reasonable cost. Many have the restriction that you must be staying at accommodation in that area. These waters are stocked and generally one or two fish can be kept each day. There is one interesting rule applicable to German fisheries – you are not allowed by law to return any fish which is of a takeable size. Animal welfare policies dictate that you can only fish to eat as there is no other acceptable reason to inflict any pain or stress on a fish other than for eating. Catch and release stretches are therefore not openly advertised. If you are reported you can have your gear confiscated and face a fine.
Slovenia is “Europe’s New Zealand,” according to Robin. Beautiful mountains, forests and crystal-clear rivers which hold some very good fish, notably indigenous populations of marmorata trout and grayling. It is well known as a destination for fly anglers and completely over-crowded. In Slovenia day tickets are freely available although relatively expensive with no limits on how many are sold resulting in frequent angler encounters (“I was constantly bumping into anglers at every turn in the river”) with no angler etiquette explicit or implied. Robin tells me “Due to the incredible angling pressure on these fisheries the rivers are totally over-stocked with rainbow trout. In one run alone I caught 20 rainbows (up to 50cm). Basically it has been “spoilt” due to the number of anglers but the local authorities have no incentive to reduce angling pressure due to the amount of money they earn from day tickets/ week tickets, etc. It’s a business. The country is full of anglers from all over Europe”.
In India and Kashmir, overseas anglers are charged a premium for non-resident licences and are probably the only anglers who actually buy licences with many locals using hand- lines, nets and even dynamite to catch fish. My first encounters with these locals was tempered by my liberal first-world sympathy that such poor, rural villagers should be free to catch the local trout so as to put food on the table and into the mouths of their poor starving children. However I was quickly disavowed of this notion when I noticed that everyone who caught a trout marched off down the track to the nearest village in order to sell it and thence to the “English Beer and Wine Shop” to purchase bottles of “Godfather Strong Lager,” the Indian sub-continent’s very own wife-beater.
The fishing was okay, but completely unregulated from poaching and pollution and fish farming operations, and three of the six rivers we fished have now been wrecked by enormous hydro schemes. It is a dying fishery because of all this.
Finally, the U.S. If you’re out of state you pay the same premium for a fishing licence regardless of how far from the border you’ve come. In Montana, an increasing amount of high water river margins are being “posted” to stop angler access, albeit drift fishing from boats overcomes this in the larger rivers. Public access is good for much of the Yellowstone catchment and the system is similar to ours insofar as there are no restrictions on how often, how much or how many fish can be caught. It’s not as good as here though.
… from the NZ Federation of Freshwater Anglers. David Haynes – President NZFFA