Taipā protesters should target commercial boats, not local fishers – Doubtless Bay organiser

Police talking to protesters blocking access to a boat ramp at Taipā in the Far North.

Police talking to protesters blocking access to a boat ramp at Taipā in the Far North, on 26 January, 2024.
Photo: RNZ / Peter de Graaf

The organiser of an annual fishing contest says protesters have moved on, but there is still a police presence.

On Friday and Saturday, members of Ngāti Kahu blocked the access road to a boat ramp at Taipā, where the Doubtless Bay Fishing Competition was being held.

The protesters were concerned about the number of fish caught locally, and said event planners should have consulted with iwi.

But competition organiser Nick Ryan said the protesters’ anger was misdirected, and they should be going after commercial boats who fish local waters indiscriminately.

He said local iwi recently commissioned their own investigation into fish stocks in the area.

“I’ve been told… there is absolutely nothing wrong with our fish stocks, and proof of that is that the biggest snapper caught yesterday was caught off the rocks, at Taipā Point, 50 yards from where they were protesting, so their statements without doubt, it would appear, are without foundation.

“I understand they’ve got concerns and there’s nothing wrong with those concerns. We all have the same concerns – as fishermen, if nothing else – and certainly everyone’s entitled to protest.

“But you need to have accurate facts about what you’re doing instead of coming up with this thing two days before our event started and [attempting to cause] mayhem.”

Ryan said local fishers were not looking to destroy stocks but carefully select what they were after – in contrast to commercial fisheries, who fished intensively and indiscriminately.

“The fish are here. If they really are concerned, they should help us stop some of these commercial boats that are sailing out at night and laying 5000 hooks from one side of the bay to the other, and catching it four hours later with fish [as well as] the by-catch. [They’re] indiscriminately catching anything that comes along.”

Ryan said that although some families stayed away from the competition out of concern, both competitors and funds raised so far were up on last year, and the event had been “a huge success”.

“We had two rugby fields chock-full of cars. It was wonderful to see people supporting the first day of the auction.

“We are pleased – not only because of the local support, but to see the kids’ faces – when they were bringing in or weighing their fish – was fantastic. That’s what this is about: a family event and supporting each other, in our area. It’s great.”

He said that on Saturday the heaviest fish caught was “a big snapper caught off the rocks at Taipā by local chap, Bruce Rapene, at 11.2kg”.

In second place “was a young lady, aged 13 and a half or 14 years old, Kayleigh Turner….It was her second time fishing and she caught a 10.18kg snapper by boat”.

“It was fantastic, one of the best moments of my day.”

The police told RNZ they had not heard of any problems at the competition today.

Source link

Leave a Reply