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    Spearfishing NZ Newsletter 76 - April 2010

    May 19, 2010 10 min read

    So, how will you rank this year’s diving season amongst all those you have experienced in the past? From the perspective of events planned south of the Far North and then needing to be postponed because of the weather, this year’s list exceeds any previous year we can recall in the past 40 years. No respecter of regional or shop-based events, each have had weather upsets to planning forcing some events to make 2 or 3 consecutive postponements and eventually cancellations. An unfortunate result of those postponements has been the sharp drop off in participants each time the event is re-scheduled. Later in the year we will be looking at how we can mitigate the fallout from those weather induced changes. Gone now into retirement is veteran Australian competitor Rob Torelli. A superb spearfisherman he has in the past put all other competitors ‘under the hammer’ both in Australia and in NZ. A first rate interview with Rob can be read on the Australia’s Seachange Newsletter. (You can Google it.).

    It won’t escape the attention of many where he says that he seldom dived deeper than 17m to win the numerous events he has been so successful in. Turning our attention again to NZ’s Far North, they have had the best of conditions of probably anywhere in NZ this summer. Mind you, if you are a drought stricken farmer you might give a different interpretation! However, even for one of them there are compensations when you can swim from shore and return with food for the week. Geoff Crawford’s day out during April shows some good fish, (biggest snapper 6.8kg) as well as the OMER suit he won last year for his Trevally at the Blue water competition. It has held together well for someone who swims as hard as Geoff. Few will keep up with him. Easter was the time for the 2010 Bluewater Competition, again in the Far North. Unseasonal easterly winds for the second year in a row came with the scheduled date. It certainly cut down visibility around inshore areas but did not stop Glen Farac weighing in the only snapper to exceed the minimum 5kg weight. Gutted and gilled at 5.85kg Glen used his local knowledge to dive the sheltered waters behind large islands and headlands. With his other fish, it made him the outright winner. Some changes are being discussed for this event in 2011. 2010 Northern Area Spearfishing Competition Report from Gary Conway The Bluefins club’s late decision to hold this year’s comp at Slipper Island, Tairua on the 24th April proved to be a good one with competitors diving in 20m plus visibility, balmy seas and sunshine.

    The water and fishiness was truly astounding and the visibility the best any of the divers have seen in the area. The competition area was restricted only by the 6 hour comp time, allowing dive teams to venture as wide as they liked with some swimming 40 minutes out to the large rock structure midway back to the Tairua coast. The fish list also challenged teams to consider their best options for points with the 5 x Gurnard wild card. The weigh-in saw a really fine selection of great table fish that was filleted, bagged and donated to the Tairua Fire Brigade to distribute to the local community as a fund raiser. Prize giving, BBQ and tall stories lasted well into the night. With such amazing visibility on Saturday it was decided to use it again on Sunday exploring the extremities of all the local weed edges around 25 meters looking for treasure. It was an excellent, easy and fruitful weekend that will definitely be repeated. A huge thanks to all the competitors, Matt Lind and Wild Blue for the great prizes, the Bluefins club, and of course, the women on shore for organizing the food and letting us do it. Winners: 1st place John Anderson & Andrew MacDonald (13 fish) 2nd place Julian O’Neal & Matt Lind (12 fish) 3rd place Simon Jones & Peter Macintyre (10 fish) 1st Junior Nick Stretton Most Meritorious Paul Best:

    Tarakihi Asking Questions Amongst the several hundred people who get to read this newsletter most have speared fish either in competitions or for their dinner table. Generally what is speared is what is allowed. But we are raising here a few questions regarding whether what we legally do is in our own best interests and that of some of the fish we enjoy capturing. In this section of the Newsletter there are no concessions to easy skim reading that is forgotten with the turning of a page! Instead we are asking you to process the information to the extent that you ask yourself questions as to what fish you might best take in your day out under the water. Nationals 2010 follow-up? In the interests of informed decision making we are including here excerpts from a letter received from Paul Spence shortly after this year’s National Championships were completed. We have edited it slightly in that his comments about following the Rules of Competition is not a matter in dispute but may be in need of a re-emphasis at subsequent events.. Paul writes: “While working on a Code of Practice it has become apparent to me that we must practice what we preach. There is not a lot of good having fine words like ‘Take only what you need,’ if we don’t follow them!” Berley of Fish? After Nationals 2010 I asked a number of competitors how many fish they took and used for berley. The average number that survey came up with was 9.Some competitors had a very high number and others very low. This means that with 33 teams, the number of extra fish taken during the two days of competition was an astounding 297! And that’s not counting the events for Women, Junior Divers, and Swim off! Personally I find that excessive and unnecessary, but I readily admit I did just like anybody else, as my diving buddy and I also took fish for berley. It is my intention to propose a new rule at the next Spearfishing NZ AGM that will not allow us to take fish for berley during the competition. This rule would still allow you to gut and gill the fish you intend to present, and also allow berley of kina. You may be interested to know that berley with fish is not allowed at the World Championships.

    There every fish speared must be presented. You are not even allowed to upsize! I am aware that this would be an easy rule to break, however I do have faith that if this rule is adopted at the AGM, then most if not all divers will respect it. Please discuss this issue amongst yourselves and present your arguments for or against at the next AGM. Cleaning of Fish? ‘We should not be cleaning fish in areas that we or others swim in” Various places around our coastline, such as the inside of Great Mercury Island, have become problem areas for sharks. One of the reasons for this could be the attraction of the amount of fish cleaned by divers. This presents a problem at the end of our competitions when we clean the catch right where the boats are parked. Divers are still in the water. We are also providing a shark attraction to that vicinity where other divers or people might swim shortly thereafter. I suggest we adopt a practice where we never clean fish in the areas in which we swim. That is not just at competitions. Instead always clean fish out in deep water. Food for thought! Regards and good diving Paul Spence Looking for consistency? The concerns raised in Paul Spence’s letter about taking fish in competitions that are not necessarily going to be weighed caused us to query another practice where Kingfish weighing more than 8kg do not get weight above that credited to their total. In other words, as a competitor you are encouraged to spear Kingfish weighing around 8kg+. The effect of that has seen competitors becoming quite adept at sorting out from within a school of Kingfish one in the 8-10kg range and spearing it. An additional incentive has been the minimizing of the swimming effort required where an otherwise significantly larger fish has had to be towed on a float or in a plat for 6 hours while the competition is in progress. . Taking Kingfish this small has been a concern for some recreational fishermen nationwide and they have wondered about how sensible it was to do so.

    Current research is not only backing that concern, but also highlighting that fishing regulations are not always as rigorously science-based as they are often thought to be. Current independent research is confirming that taking fish of around 8kg is in effect taking fish from “recruitment stock” that is, fish which have not reached maturity and therefore had a chance to breed. You will be aware that female crayfish are said to have a tail width minimum of 60mm for just this reason: they are reportedly able to breed at least once before capture. Taking fish that have not bred has been described in other fisheries both here and overseas as an effective way to deplete a fishery. We made enquiries of the Ministry of Fisheries and attach their reply I’m following up on your query about the size of maturity for Kingfish. Kingfish reach maturity at a length of 83 cm for males and 97 cm for females. As you are aware, the minimum legal size (MLS) for Kingfish in all areas of New Zealand waters is 75cm therefore fish that have not reached maturity are still legally able to be taken. I understand that the rationale for setting the MLS at 75cm was to constrain recreational catch to the allowances set when Kingfish was introduced to the QMS (Quota Management System) in 2003. The MLS was previously 65cm.

    Essentially, increasing the MLS to 75cm constrained recreational catch to ensure that recreational catch limits reduced to the level agreed in the allocation decisions of the introduction to the QMS. It was also recognised that increasing the MLS provided biological benefit to the stocks. Although the MLS was not based on the age of maturity it might be worth noting that at the time the decision was made, scientific information suggested that male length at maturity was 70cm and female length at maturity was 97cm. I would also note that the MLS sets the minimum standard. I understand that some game fishing clubs and charter boats operate a self-imposed minimum size limit of 100cm. I hope this is helpful for you and answers your question. If you would like more information, I can provide you with the advice paper that went to the Minister which outlined the introduction of kingfish to the QMS and the rationale behind setting the MLS. Kind regards, Celina From a spearfisher or recreational fisher’s perspective and based on the above information, you cannot tell whether an 83cm Kingfish you have caught is a mature male or an immature female. That is only apparent once it is cut open and testes/ovaries are seen. Perhaps 50% of the time you could be right, or wrong. Hardly good odds! Having received this explanation from the Ministry of Fisheries we thought it would be instructive to get some idea on how heavy a mature 97cm Kingfish was likely to be while acknowledging that there will be variations in weight depending on the condition of the fish at the time of capture.

    Kaye van der Straten, an independent Marine Biologist currently working on reproductive maturity in NZ Kingfish has also noted in a communication to us that ‘growth rates and maturity of Kingfish in different parts of NZ can be affected by various factors including water temperature and food availability.’ We spoke with a northern diver/fisherman for feedback on the size and weight of Far North Kingfish. His reply is as follows. “Well as luck would have it I weighed a 97cm and a 112 cm kingfish as recently as yesterday. The 112cm was 17.4kgs and the 97cm was 13kgs.” So there you are! If you are looking for promotion and consistency in ethical and conservation values, taking Kingfish with a fork length of less than 97cms or around 13kg is another area to be thought about. Are you one of our Statistics? In the 30 days leading up to April 21, our www.spearfishingnz.co.nz website had 745 visits. Over half were returning visitors and that may well include many of you who are reading this Newsletter. It suggests the website is doing what was intended, namely, people know there is a good chance they will find there the information they want. Top of the pages people have turned to have been the Home page, Competition schedule, Species, A bit of a yarn, and Clubs. In the language of Google who provides us with this information, 85% of readers are “direct traffic” with the remainder coming from search engines or referring sites. Such information reminds us that the particular pages mentioned above always need updating and in some cases expanding. In the case of the latter we are grateful to John Anderson for allowing us to use his Oliver Twist take on claiming a record for a Caramel Drummer.

    Most recreational fishers will find it thoroughly informative while tinged with John’s acerbic wit.You can read it in the section, A Bit of a Yarn. We attach here the reply to us from Te Papa in respect of this fish. The caramel drummer is the common name given to the Kermadec species which has been straggling down to the Northland area. It is a blotchy yellow & greenish. It is a distinct species with smaller scales. I have the one specimen speared & would be keen for more vouchers. There are a couple of other drummer species also putting in appearances in the same region & would appreciate spearos 'sampling’ these as well. Andrew Stewart If you can help out with this request be sure to freeze the fish and contact Andrew at Te Papa for further advice. In the same vein, many of you will have had a diving related experience that others will enjoy reading about. Please take the time to record it and send it to us. STOP PRESS : An unconfirmed report on the Inter Pacific Championships just concluded in Tahiti had Tahiti first on 200%, NZ second on 180%, Australia 3rd and Hawaii 4th. A full Report will be available at www.spearfishingnz.co.nz when it comes to hand. Next year the Inter Pacific championships are scheduled to be held in NZ. Expressions of interest in organising the event should be sent to the Spearfishing NZ Committee before the end of June, 2010 This information is sent to you from Spearfishing NZ. If you do not wish to receive it in the future contact one of the Committee below and your name will be removed from the list. Conversely, if you know someone who would like to receive it, contact a Committee member so email details can be added to the mailing list. Judy Johnston Secretary n.j@clear.net.nz David Scott Treasurer davidscott@paradise.net.nz Bob Rosemergy Chairman hughr@xtra.co.nz