Man, what an incredible place we live in, New Zealand that is. I’m smitten with the lifestyle up here in the North, the weather, the fishing, the people, and there is equally as much to love about most coastal and regional parts of New Zealand where fishing, diving and hunting is accessible. But back to the North, and the latest thing that amazes me about what we have on our doorstep, swordfish.
On any given weekend (or calm work day for that matter) guys are catching swordfish on their own gear and from their own boats that most elite international big game anglers would envy.
We’re now in our third consecutive autumn where there have been record numbers of swordfish being caught. Is this due to an increase in swordfish numbers? I’m not so sure, but there definitely has been more effort, and with more effort comes more success, and with more success comes more anglers. And with more anglers putting in more effort, even more get caught! And so it goes on…well until the swordfish numbers drop to the point where the success isn’t so good, then the effort will subside.
If we replace the word ‘success’ with ‘profit’ in the paragraph above, it describes a pattern that has been repeated over and over for centuries in commercial fishing. This boom and bust effect is exaggerated with big game fish, because they are apex predators there are fewer of them.
So when we’ve got a booming fishery like we have right now with swordfish, wouldn’t it be nice to keep it abundant so the success can continue for more than a few short boom years?
There are no restrictions on how many swordfish an angler can take, or the method to catch them. But up until a couple of years ago there was no need to restrict the recreational swordfish catch because they were hard to catch – not because there were less swordfish, but because anglers would have to venture out a long way off shore at night and fish for swordfish in the darkness.
At night swordfish are much harder to hook, and generally speaking they fight much harder after dark too. But since the spread of the deep day dropping technique, it’s become as easy as dropping a bait for a hapuku.
There are recent examples of guys catching four or more swordfish in a matter of days and killing all of them, and still going out for more! Sure when it’s a few guys doing this, it pales with the commercial catch, but with more and more people joining the ‘swordfish gold rush’, perhaps we need to consider the cumulative effect of the rec fishing effort, and consider doing our bit on an individual level.
Lets keep this place of ours in good shape – it really is amazing what we have. Hey why not make it even better!?
Keep ‘em tight
Don’t forget we’re now on