The recent review of Taupo Fishery regulations, the first changes for many years, have resulted in some interesting comment. Major issues affecting anglers are the reduction of minimum size from 40 cm to 35 cm whilst increasing the daily bag limit from 3 to 6 per day and the fees structure.
So what do TRM inmates think? At a “komiti” meeting of BOFs (Boring Old Farts) their first point was that these are the first changes of many that were originally recommendeded by DOC’s own consultants in their Sports Fishery review in 2013 – over four years ago. They requested TRM need to review the recommendations to consider the extent of the changes now implemented… So you can decide…
The town of Tūrangi markets itself as the ‘Trout Fishing Capital of the World’, Taupō’s waterfront is home to a large trout sculpture to welcome visitors to the town, and the region is home to the Tongariro National Trout Centre near Tūrangi.
A study by APR Consultants, commissioned as part of this review process, has confirmed the importance of the Fishery to the economic and social wellbeing of the region, with an annual economic contribution of up to $29m per annum and close to 300 jobs dependent on it.
Improved licencing options, better communication and more effective marketing of fishing opportunities in the region were all identified as aspects needing improvement. We confirmed that participation rates (like in many places) have steadily declined from a peak in the 1980s, and most significantly there has been a 20% drop in licence sales over the past five years. Given the major economic and social contribution to the region from the Fishery, and given that it is licence fees that pay for fisheries management, this is a significant issue that needs considerable focus and attention.
In particular we believe that there are obvious opportunities to improve the effectiveness of the Department’s relationships with Fish and Game (given they are in the same ‘business’). Currently the relationship appears to be disjointed and ‘competitive’ rather than collaborative. There are also opportunities to develop stronger relationships with the tourism and wider business sector in the region (for mutual benefit)…
1 Establish a clear goal for the management of the Taupō Fishery that focuses on maximising the full value (in economic, environmental, social and cultural terms) that the Fishery can deliver.
- Develop and implement a marketing and communications plan toraise the profile of the fishery nationally and internationally; and
- Initiate the development of a collective vision and a strategic plan for the Tongariro River to address the competing demands on the riverand surrounding land.
- In relation to the existing licencing system:
- Put in place an on-line system in close collaboration with Fish and Game;
- Develop a national licence option;
- Offer a fuller range of licence options, with the priority being a family licence, a weekend licence, and a 12 month licence;
- Define and brand the full extent of the Taupō Sports Fishery;
- Develop and implement a marketing and communications plan to raise the profile of the fishery nationally and internationally; and
- Initiate the development of a collective vision and a strategic plan for the Tongariro River to address the competing demands on the river and surrounding land.
Expand opportunities to learn to fish for all people, including expanding the kids ‘fish-out’ days to a daily occurrence for all visitors (not just children);
- Develop a new communications strategy, including reconsidering the role of the Target Taupō publication;
- Adopt regular, timely and less formal communication, including better use of social media and more active engagement with and support for existing sites…
- Concluded – We are clear that effective communication is critical to the management of the Taupō the Taupo Fishery.
Total Taupō fishing licence sales decreased from 54,086 to 41,363 (-23.5%), between the 2007/08 and 2011/12 seasons. Behind this movement was a decrease in sales in excess of 20% for every type of licence over the five year period.
Adult Season Licence sales declined the most of all licence types, with an average annual growth rate of negative 8%. This was a decrease from 12,065 licences sold in 2007/08 to 8,650 in the 2011/12 season.
These movements continue a general downward trend in Taupō fishing licence sales over the past 24 years, since sales peaked at over 82,000 in the 1987/88 season. etc…….
Page 59 overall, it is reasonable to assert that the Taupō Fishery supports nearly 300 jobs, creates at least $29 million in business turnover, and adds $11 million to the size of the economy…..
Taupō trout fishing licence sales over the past 24 years, since sales peaked at over 82,000 in the 1987/88 season.
There were clear messages in the review process around the need for the Department to focus more on understanding the needs of anglers (past, present, and potential), to invest more effort into building support for the Fishery, and to lift participation rates in fishing.
At this time, and because the Fishery is currently managed on a cost-recovery basis, increasing participation rates of anglers is essential to achieving the overarching management goal for the Fishery.
Participant growth in the Fishery is also important to the local economy.
The messages are consistent with the current management focus on maximizing recreational opportunities for anglers, and the broader strategic focus of the Department to see more people actively engaging in recreation.
The focus of the discussions was that the Department should be actively removing existing barriers (perceived or otherwise) to participation, and be doing more to actively engage with the community and promote the Fishery.
So far the only official’ comment to the changes from DOC’s Michel Dedual, is in the Trout Fisher magazine (winter issue 161). His opening comments summarise it – quote “In the Lake Taupo fishery the understanding of the process driving the smelt production is critical for applying the best management strategy. The study of the drivers of the smelt production has been subject of a PhD thesis that is just about to be completed. In a nutshell this study indicates that trout rely heavily on smelt and that smelt in turn depend heavily on zooplankton production from the pelagic zone of the lake – the main open water part of the lake that is not in contact with the lake shore or lake bed The smaller the smelt population, the more limited trout populations will be.…” Such fascinating stuff. But he goes on to reveal more secrets – “The level of predation by anglers depends on the numbers of anglers fishing.” There. So now you know.
This 2013 study was desperately needed as – in the words of Michel Dedual in the issue 161 Trout Fisher article: “Since 1986 the number of anglers has diminished by half from more than 80,000 to less than 40,000. This reduction in licence sale has in turn reduced the the harvest (predation) that in turn resulted in an over population of trout that put excessive pressure on trout.”
So now you know – you anglers are to blame for the trout condition!.
His comments follow those from Taupo guide Paul Mikkelson. (I dialled up his Facebook to see if he had received any feedback but not mentioned…) His more interesting comments address the issues from an anglers perspective. He suggests “However the overall concept does make sense to me and I am supportive of this move but do have concerns or at least questions about the proposed amendment. Is it just addressing the symptom and not the cause?”
TRM invite your comments (providing you also send a cc to DoC). We have had several requests from West Island anglers trying to understand the new fees loading for foreigners and asking why there are still two licences – i.e. F&G and DoC?
TRM are not qualified to answer these queries apart from suggesting the annual fees are great value considering the all year round fishing opportunities on the Tongariro. But then some may imagine we might be biased?.