Recreational fishing hooks $1.7B for NZ - report

More than 600,000 New Zealanders enjoy recreational fishing each year
More than 600,000 New Zealanders enjoy recreational fishing each year

A new report into recreational fishing suggests it's far more than a hobby, and is actually an economic asset.

For the first time an international expert has come up with a dollar value to the country.

It says recreational fishing is worth $1.7 billion a year to the New Zealand economy.

The sector employs 8000 people - in tourism, fish and tackle shops, charter boat operators.

And if we break that down, the upper North Island generates $660 million, the South Island $172 million, and the lower North Island $110 million.

From boats to bait, fuel tax to four wheel drives, recreational fishers say they're big spenders, and today's report for the first time proves they shouldn't be ignored.

"Recreational fishers they want to be heard they want to have a voice when decisions are being made about fishing in the future," says visiting American expert Rob Southwick.

Mr Southwick's report was commissioned by the New Zealand Marine Research Foundation.

It says $100,000 tourists fish our waters each year, and 600,000 locals are hooked, spending $1.7 billion a year in fishing shops, on charters, even on accommodation near fishing havens.

"All this rounds of spending creates 8100 jobs a year and over $200 million in tax revenue so it's a whole ripple effect," says Mr Southwick.

Recreational fishers say they'll use this report to lobby the Government for a seat at the table in resource allocation and policy making, a table they say has been dominated for years by the commercial sector.

"We actually export 1.6 billion -- the income of the commercial sector from exports doesn't reflect how much money we generate in New Zealand itself," says Sanford chief executive Volker Kunntzch.

There's ongoing tension between commercial fishers and weekend boaties who just love to throw out a line.

The Government says the fact it's looking at exclusive access to two of our most popular fishing spots Hauraki Gulf and Marlborough Sounds just for the casual angler, shows members of the public are "equally important to MPI as the commercial and customary sectors, and that's evident in the newly created recreational fishing team set up within Fisheries management."

"It's part of our DNA to want to go out and catch a feed of fish so we want to see a fishery that's healthy and abundant and rebuilt not one that's depleted," says LegaSea recreational fishing advocate Richard Baker.

And recreational fishers like Mr Baker just hope today's report will show Government policy makers that casual fishers are a bone fide group worthy of being included in the entire industry's bid to fish smarter.


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