Sanford praised by Fish & Game for fishing halt in Salmon Conservation Area
- Richie Cosgrove
One of New Zealand’s biggest fishing companies, Sanford, is being praised by Fish & Game for halting operations near Banks Peninsula to avoid catching salmon.
Sanford has instructed its skippers not to fish in the Salmon Conservation Area (SCA) near Banks Peninsula because there are too many salmon there.
Sandford’s decision was prompted after one of its vessels caught nearly 400 salmon as by-catch last weekend. While the majority – 372 – were escaped farm salmon, 22 were wild bred fish.
Above Right: A salmon angler heads out for a fish at the Mouth of the Rakaia River.
The vessel was targeting red cod and barracouta within the Salmon Conservation Area and legally landed the salmon as by-catch.
Central South Island Fish & Game scientist Mark Webb says Sandford’s decision is welcome.
“Sanford has voluntarily removed its vessels from fishing within the area even though they are legally entitled to fish there,” Mr Webb says.
“It has done this because of the company’s desire to improve the recreational salmon fishery for anglers, and it hopes its action gives people a better chance of catching a fish this summer.
“We are pleased with the good example Sandford is setting,” he says.
Mark Webb says it is highly unusual for one trawler to catch so many salmon in just one trip.
“This is a surprise. In recent years salmon by-catch has been very low and generally there’s only about 300 kg caught by the whole fleet across the entire year,” Mr Webb says.
“Over the years the salmon catch verification programme has been operational, catches of none to two salmon per trip have been normal so the catch of 22 wild salmon is notable.”
Mark Webb says that might hint at a good salmon angling season.
“In previous seasons when the by-catch has been relatively high, so has the return of salmon to rivers to spawn. So, from that respect, this big by-catch suggests anglers might look forward to good runs of salmon back to the rivers over coming months,” Mr Webb says.
Sanford’s decision to stop fishing in the area comes amid increasing concern over the state of New Zealand’s wild salmon.
A symposium organised by Fish & Game was recently held in Ashburton to discuss the decline in salmon populations and plan how to restore them to previous levels.
The salmon live at sea for most of their life before returning to spawn in the rivers where they hatched. Anglers prize wild salmon, and during their summer spawning runs, flock to Canterbury’s braided rivers in the hope of catching one.
Map of Salmon Conservation Area above.