29 Aug 2008

Options considered before fishing ban was imposed

6:10 am on 29 August 2008

A parliamentary select committee has been told a number of options were considered before a blanket ban on blue cod fishing was imposed in the Marlborough Sounds.

The Ministry of Fisheries has closed the area for four years from October, so heavily depleted stocks can recover.

The ministry says it is possible for the ban to be reduced if a new plan to replenish blue cod stocks is drawn up that gets the Minister's approval.

It says other options were considered including lowering the daily bag and boat limit for the species and a ban on high grading - where smaller fish are dumped in favour of bigger fish.

The ministry says it considered banning fishing of all species in some areas of the Sounds, but that option was seen as too severe.

The Recreational Fishing Council's president Geoff Rowling told the hearing in front of the committee it supports the ban in principle.

"The ban does seem a pretty draconian way of addressing the issue," he says.

"But the reality is that blue cod has been in decline for a long time and maybe this is the measure that needs to be taken to make us sit up and notice that there is a problem."

The National Party says if elected to Government in the upcoming election, it will pressure the ministry to come up with a better solution.