Source: NIWA – National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research
NIWA is heading out into the Hauraki Gulf this month to carry out a survey of juvenile snapper– the first of its kind for 20 years.
Fisheries scientists aboard NIWA research vessel Kaharoa are trying to understand how many one and two-year-old snapper are in the area known as the Snapper 1 fishery. The survey area extends from Bream Head in the north down to Mercury Bay and begins on November 13, finishing at the end of the month.
Recreational fishers, boaties and ferry passengers in the Gulf are likely to see Kaharoa on the water as the survey is conducted. The vessel will be displaying banners marked “RESEARCH”.
Kaharoa has a special permit to trawl for snapper in an area where trawling is usually banned.
Survey leader Dr Darren Parsons says the work will provide the clearest picture yet about how the snapper fishery is faring. It is known that the number of juvenile snapper can vary a lot between years.
“What this survey will do is give us an advanced view of whether the preceding years have produced particularly strong or weak year classes of juvenile snapper that are about to become vulnerable to capture by the fishery as they grow above 25cm (the minimum commercial catch size) in the next few years.”
“This is extremely valuable information to have for undertaking a stock assessment as it allows Fisheries New Zealand to forecast what the productivity of the snapper fishery will be in the coming few years.”
Fisheries New Zealand’s Manager Fisheries Science, Dr Richard Ford says snapper is one of New Zealand’s most prized finfish, and this survey will help us gain a better understanding of the fishery and its productivity over the coming years.”
“It’s important that we know how the fishery is looking so we can monitor the rebuild of the snapper population and make informed management decisions.”
The crew will sort and analyse the contents of each trawl on Kaharoa’s deck to collect the data they need.
A similar survey will be carried out in the Bay of Plenty from February 9 from the Mercury Islands in the north to Cape Runaway.