You have to feel for Legasea’s Scott Macindoe.

While the rest of us were getting our share of great kiwi kai moana over an almost endless summer, poor old Scott was moaning about our waters allegedly being fished out.

On January 9 he was given airtime on Radio New Zealand’s Summer Times programme where he reeled out his by now standard rant about the “quite corrupt quota management system…witnessing the slow motion train wreck that is the demolition of the inshore finfish assemblage” that was overseen by “these intractable, greedy,corporate commercial fishing organisations”.

“Hapuku and bass – gone. For the purposes of recreational fishing, they’re all just buggered. Inaccessible.”


The 35lb hapuku my son and I caught off the Wairarapa coast in late December seemed real enough. Tasted pretty good too.

On the same day one of the veteran locals decided one was not enough and chose to land 11.

That catch, of course, is not recorded in stock assessments as recreational fishing remains the missing element of the Quota Management System.

The fishing was just as good on New Year’s Day when John Luoni landed a 23 kg (51lb) bluenose.

Reports from around the country were equally positive – a lot of fish are being caught.

Geoff Thomas in his fishing column in the NZ Herald last week noted snapper fishing had picked up, tropical visitors like mahimahi were being caught off the east coast, kingfish were in close and gurnard were increasingly being caught in the outer and inner Hauraki Gulf after being scarce in recent years.

Elsewhere, Otago University academic Dr Liz Slooten tried to grab some silly season airtime with her usual unsubstantiated claims about the fishing industry causing hundreds of endangered dolphins deaths.

That gained no traction. If you cry wolf often enough, people stop listening.

Anyway, the media was preoccupied with tracking a bunch of yobbo English tourists, filing almost hourly updates on their whereabouts, demonstrating in the process what a quaint country we are.

To its credit, Radio NZ put the record straight on sustainable fisheries with an extended interview on January 18 with Dr Matt Dunn, principal scientist fisheries at NIWA and Dr Jeremy Helson, chief executive of Fisheries Inshore New Zealand and formerly head of deepwater fisheries in the Ministry for Primary Industries.

Dunn confirmed New Zealand compares very well internationally, with a long list of species that are known to be in a good state, including hoki, southern blue whiting, barracuda, gurnard, rock lobster, scampi and some tunas.

The assessment work was objective, drawing on trawl surveys, catch sampling, population modelling, acoustics and cameras and was peer reviewed.

Helson conceded the system was not perfect and the industry was advocating several amendments. However, it was lauded internationally and had a very good track record since its inception 33 years ago when the inshore fishery really was in trouble.

He also pointed out what should be obvious – that the industry cannot exist without sustainable fisheries.

“It is in their absolute best interests to ensure the fish are there and the stocks are healthy. Otherwise their business disappears.”

The independently peer reviewed OpenSeas website provides confirmation of sustainability credentials, reflecting heightened consumer awareness and demand for accurate information.

As for Legasea’s angry old man, the reason he is not catching any fish is either because he is too busy interviewing his keyboard, or he is simply a lousy fisherman.

I’d be happy to take him out in Cook Strait or on the Kapiti or Wairarapa coast and shows him how it is done.

That is as long as he is not offended by me wearing earplugs.