Sunday, December 3, 2023

Fish & Game hikes fees for overseas anglers

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Certain rivers will attract new licence fee in move to control overcrowding.
24112020 Photo: Richard Cosgrove/Fish & Game NZ Back country fishing North Canterbury on the hope, boyle, lewis and nina Rivers
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Overseas anglers will pay more to fish some rivers in New Zealand this season.

Fish & Game NZ chief executive Corina Jordan confirmed a designated waters licence will be introduced for the new season, which begins on October 1. 

While most angling takes place in easily accessible lowland rivers and lakes, this season will mark the introduction of a new management tool to better protect NZ’s more fragile fisheries, which are often located in the back country.

“The new designated waters licence will see Kiwi anglers get a fairer share on some of the waterways that Fish & Game’s research has shown are subject to too much pressure – around 2% of the country’s rivers.

“The new licence category will help us manage angling pressure by spreading angling effort around so that it isn’t concentrated in certain areas, which detracts from the angling experience and also has the potential to negatively impact the fisheries.”

Non-residents will have to pay $40 per day to fish designated waters, and may purchase only a maximum of five day licences for each Fish & Game region they want to fish in.  

Local residents will pay $5 per region for the entire season on top of a traditional fishing licence fee.

Jordan said over the past 10 years, Fish & Game has received increasing complaints from resident and non-resident anglers regarding overcrowding in a small number of fisheries that will now be managed through the designated waters licence.

“Our research and monitoring show that a small percentage of non-resident anglers will intensely fish a local area, not only putting pressure on the fishery but also displacing other anglers. We’ve implemented this new fisheries management tool to help address that imbalance.”

In some fisheries, angler use has gone from a roughly 50:50 resident-to-non-resident split (in the early 2000s) to an 80:20 split favouring non-resident anglers.  In most cases, pressure-sensitive fisheries, now managed through the designated waters licence, share common features: the rivers have very clear water, offer excellent sight fishing, hold large average size trout, have high scenic value, and are often located in a wilderness or backcountry setting.

Jordan said that “with a majority of our non-resident anglers fishing our back country fisheries for four or less days, most anglers won’t be impacted by the change”.

“It’s important to note that only a small proportion of anglers contributing to unsustainable angling pressure will be affected by this change. 

“We really appreciate and value overseas anglers, the contribution they make to the economy, as well as our organisation through purchasing licences, which helps us protect waterways.”

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