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In earlier times eels (Maori: tuna) were so abundant in our watherways that when Maori traversed the country there was no need to take food as an eel was easily caught and cooked for dinner. Whitebait (Maori: Inanga) New Zealands most expensive delicacy fish, were once so abundant that it took just minutes to catch a bucketful, and they were often used food for hens.
Change can happen seemingly slowly in fisheries, so slowly that one hardly notices the difference, until you refer back to historical accounts of fishing. Indeed a 'creeping baseline' gets measured in ones own fishing lifetime which can lead one to believe things are not so bad, we can still catch a feed, just.
But what about future generations to come? Surely we would like them to be able to still catch fish in our seas and rivers just as we have. Our prediction is that if we do nothing except take, then species getting higher on the 'endangered list' is a surety.
What can you do? Lots. Just out of Opotiki on the verge of Ohiwa Harbour is a most excellent walkway through low lying replanted with wet lands vegetation. It is here that Inanga (native trout) will lay their eggs by the millions on a spring high tide and return to the waterways as whitebait. This is a model established for us all to replicate in our local areas.
Zeand Fishing offers a five part voyage that walks you through how to enhance rivers and oceans in practical ways. Its fishing aspect encourages full utilisation of the fish caught. Once the imagination is fired up we are convinced that practical ways of helping restore fisheries to former days will open up.
Fisheries is at a crossroads, Have we the will to act before its too late? Can we reverse sudden non linear collapses of fish populations and instead create an abundance so rich that there is enough fish for all?
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