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Red gurnard were introduced into the Quota Management System (QMS) in 1986. The commercial fishing year for gurnard is 1 October to 30 September the following year.
The initial Total Allowable Commercial Catches (TACCs) were set in 1986 and these increased over time until 1990. TACCs for Gurnard 1, 2 and 8 have not changed since 1990. Only Gurnard 3 & 7 have a Total Allowable Catch (TAC), TACC and allowances set aside for non-commercial fishing interests.
Gurnard 3 (GUR 3) is a combination of management areas 3, 4, 5 & 6. GUR 3 is the largest commercial red gurnard fishery, with GUR 7 the next largest, in terms of catch.
Red gurnard growth rates vary between areas, and females grow faster and are usually larger than males of similar age. Maximum age is around 16 years and maximum size is around 55 cm.
Red gurnard reach sexual maturity at 2 or 3 years of age and a fork length of about 23 cm. In GUR 7 scientist have found that young fish 1 to 4 years old tend to be most common in Tasman and Golden Bays. Fish 3 to 6 years old are more common inshore off the west coast of the South Island, and older fish are generally further offshore.
Fisheries New Zealand report the status of red gurnard stocks is unknown however, fish stocks like gurnard have natural cycles in abundance. GUR 7 seems to be at a peak in the abundance cycle.
Table 1: TACs, TACCs and allowances for red gurnard, in tonnes (t).
|Fishstock||Recreational allowance||Maori customary allowance||Other mortality||TACC||TAC|
|TOTAL (tonnes)||44||18||314||5959||2769 (TACs)|
Red gurnard are a major bycatch of inshore trawl fisheries in most areas around New Zealand. Up to 15% of the total red gurnard catch is taken by bottom longline and set net fisheries.
Red gurnard has been subject to major, ongoing concerns about the illegal dumping of small fish in particular. One ofo MPI’s investigation into at-sea dumping, Operation Hippocamp, found that between one third and two thirds of gurnard, by number, were illegally dumped at sea.
Aggregation of quota is a serious flaw of the Quota Management System and 82% of GUR 7 quota is owned by 4 companies. This is a contributing factor to the amount of ACE catching rights available to fishermen, and how much fish is dumped at sea.
Gurnard is an important recreational catch. In harbours and close inshore they are often taken as a bycatch of the snapper and tarakihi fisheries. Only GUR 3 and 7 have allowances set aside for non-commercial fishing interests, both recreational and Māori customary interests.
There are no quantitative estimates of Māori customary catch of red gurnard in any management area.
There is no minimum size limit applying to the commercial catch of red gurnard. For recreational fishers, red gurnard are counted in the combined daily finfish bag limit of 20 per person, per day. A 25 cm minimum size limit applies to recreationally caught red gurnard.