National blue cod strategy 2018

20 Dec 2018

Blue Cod are an iconic New Zealand fish treasured by tangata whenua and one of our most important recreational and commercial species.

The blue cod fishery has a long history. It is one of New Zealand’s most valuable domestic fisheries and has been fished commercially since the 1930s. The majority of commercial catch has been taken by cod potting in Foveaux Strait and Stewart Island (BCO5), and in the Chatham Islands (BCO4).

Blue cod is incredibly important to recreational fishers, especially in the South Island. The number of fishers taking blue cod has steadily increased over the past 20 years, as vessel and gear technology has improved. Research also suggests the majority of blue cod live within a small home range, staying in their local populations. These two factors combined are causing a decrease in abundance and the average size of blue cod in many areas. Tangata whenua, recreational and commercial fishers are concerned that some local blue cod populations are being overfished and losing their habitat. Some local populations could collapse if these trends continue.

Management issues for blue cod have arisen in localised areas throughout the South Island over different timeframes. As a result, different regions have identified different management priorities (see diagram below). The management response has treated each area and problem in isolation, resulting in a variety of management approaches being used. This approach can result in regulatory inconsistency, compliance difficulty and additional cost. By creating a single strategy for the entire fishery, we can address the inconsistency of current regulations and avoid this happening in the future.

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