Tag Archives: Fish and Game NZ

Passing the Baton at Fish & Game

Martin Taylor (left) to take up the role of Fish & Game NZ Chief Executive following the retirement of Bryce Johnson (right).
Martin Taylor (left) will take up the role of Chief Executive at Fish & Game NZ when Bryce Johnson (right) retires at the end of October.

Fish & Game New Zealand has recently appointed Martin Taylor to take over as Chief Executive from the organisation’s long serving head, Bryce Johnson.

Martin Taylor has wide experience in the corporate sector, including as Chief Executive of the Aged Care Association.  He has also been chair of the Wellington Fish & Game council and is presently working for the Capital Coast DHB as a project manager.

The chair of Fish & Game’s New Zealand Council, Lindsay Lyons, is delighted with Mr Taylor’s appointment. “Martin’s the right person for this demanding role.  He’s highly qualified, an experienced leader and politically astute,” Mr Lyons says.

“He’s also a mad keen angler and loves the outdoors and New Zealand’s wild places, so from our point of view, this is a perfect combination.  We are delighted to have him on board.”

Martin Taylor will take up the role of Chief Executive in November following the retirement of the highly respected Bryce Johnson. Bryce has held the position since Fish & Game was established in 1991, and was previously the first national director of the Acclimatisation Societies (Fish & Game’s predecessor) from 1980.

Lindsay Lyons, says Bryce Johnson’s decision to retire is a significant landmark for the organisation. “Bryce is the face of Fish & Game New Zealand and has been a hugely effective leader and advocate.  He has been in his role since Fish & Game’s inception and his hard work has helped shape it into a widely respected and effective environmental organisation.”

Bryce has placed Fish & Game at the forefront of the battle to protect New Zealand’s waterways and wild places. His passion and tenacity have secured 12 of the 15 Water Conservation Orders that currently provide ‘national park’ levels of protection to high value waterways. He also led the way, challenging the ever increasing intensification of agriculture, especially the rapid expansion of dairying and it’s damaging impact on NZ’s rivers and lakes.

Fish & Game under Bryce’s leadership has spearheaded the debate about declining freshwater quality, bringing the issue into the public domain, where it could play a role influencing the upcoming general election.

While Martin Taylor will have big waders to fill, he will lead an organisation that boasts a strong foundation for protecting the interests of anglers and hunters alike, as well as those with an interest in protecting New Zealand’s wild places.

I look forward to the continuation of Fish & Game’s robust role protecting the environment.



Science Says Fish Need More Water

Scientists have provided evidence supporting what many anglers have known for years – taking water from rivers has a negative impact on fish quality. The new knowledge, based on 15 years of research led by the Cawthron Institute, has global implications for irrigation and hydro-electric development, and recreational fishing.

Project leader and Cawthron Institute freshwater fisheries scientist Dr John Hayes says a river acts like a conveyor belt delivering drifting food to waiting fish.  “We’ve shown that as flow declines, the diminished power and transport capacity of a river results in less drifting food. A new computer model that our team developed predicts that this translates to fewer, or more slowly growing, fish.”

Dr Hays says the insights from the model are a caution to regional councils and the public to be more careful when allocating water – in New Zealand, regional councils may need to revise minimum flows upward and water allocation limits downward.

Fish & Game’s Chief Executive Bryce Jonson says Cawthron are to be applauded for producing such sound, world-leading scientific research.  Mr Johnson says the government needs to heed the research findings and bring in stronger water management rules and reconsider its support for intensive farming and irrigation. “At the moment, the government is pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into irrigation as a subsidy for intensive farming and ignoring the impact this is having on the environment and fish, including native species.”

“It is ludicrous that irrigators now want to take water from rivers and use it to replenish aquifers that have been over exploited. All this has a huge impact on the environment,” says Johnson.

“This report should be a wake-up call for the government. It has huge implications for tourism, farming and hydro-electric development and greater recognition needs to be given to freshwater fisheries,” Johnson concluded.

Neil Deans, technical policy adviser to the Minister for the Environment, says up-to-date technical information is vital for policy development, and such research can help inform water resource management.

“The quality of Dr Hayes’ and his collaborators’ research is internationally recognised, If we are going to set limits, then they should be effective in meeting community aspirations and as up-to-date as they can be.”

“This has implications for both environmental protection and for the allocation of water and its quality,” said Deans.

Go to the Cawthron Institutes’ project specific webpage to find the full story:

Listen to Dr Hayes speaking on Radio NZ:

Cartoonist Al Nisbet illustrates the problem with freshwater management in NZ
Cartoonist Al Nisbet illustrates the problem with freshwater management in NZ

Fish & Game Withdraw from Forum

irrigation system
Fish & Game resign from the Land and Water Forum so they can once again independently advocate for freshwater in NZ.

On the back of recent disappointing news about the quality of freshwater in NZ (revealed in the Government’s Environment Aotearoa 2015′ report), fly fishermen now have to face up to the implications of the withdrawal of Fish & Game New Zealand from the most significant collaborative body responsible for driving the process of freshwater reform in this country – The Land and Water Forum.

Fish & Game Chief Executive Bryce Johnson said changes to the Forum’s rules around membership and restrictions on the ability to speak out had “essentially compelled us to resign”.

“After five years its now clear the Government’s goals all along have been about natural resource development, not about environmental protection. They make the growth strategies, and add on the end the words ‘within environmental limits’.”

“This process is more superficial than substantial. For industry, it’s ideal to have all the environmental groups neatly corralled inside the tent, inside the process,” Johnson observed.

While leaving the Land and Water Forum will now allow Fish & Game to once again independently advocate for our freshwater resources, it must be a serious concern for anyone interested in water quality, that the process responsible for safeguarding our waterways could be so seriously flawed.

Of the 150 recommendations already made by the Forum over the last five years the Government still has not identified an implementation plan. In fact many have accused the Government of simply ‘cherry picking’ recommendations to suit their agenda.

Environment Minister Nick Smith responded saying he was not surprised by Fish and Games’ departure, but he was disappointed. Dr Smith said a ‘good number’ of the forum’s recommendations had been acted on.

“I don’t have the exact list in front of me… what I can say is that simplistically counting off the numbers does not give due respect to the really important recommendations around national policy statements, around the National Objectives Framework, around the funding for cleanups, around putting in place a reporting system around the quality of our freshwater, most of those have been implemented.”

So where to from here for the Forum and the quality of freshwater in New Zealand? The Government really needs to respond positively and deliver substantive practical change that results in improved water quality. It needs to fully embrace the founding principles of the Forum and deliver outcomes that satisfy the long term social, recreational and economic benefits of clean freshwater.

You can hear Fish & Game CEO Bryce Johnson speak about the withdrawal in an interview on Radio New Zealand >

James Barnett

Four Weeks to New Trout Season

Spring in New Zealand has arrived in dramatic style, with strong winds and heavy rain hammering most parts of the country… no change there then! For the NZ trout fisherman Spring also signals the build up to the start of a new trout fishing season – 2015 /16 Season kicks off 1 October.

While many larger rivers and lakes have remained open throughout the winter, especially around Lake Taupo, it’s the myriad of smaller rivers, lakes and back country streams that have been ‘off limits’ since June that will fire the imagination of many anglers. Time to get planning – and praying to the weather gods!

Experienced anglers will already have a well trodden path that helps them negotiate the new season. The less experienced trout hunter however might benefit from the following suggestions and observations.

Firstly we need to get our licences sorted out. This year I simply used the Fish & Game NZ website, which turned out to be very straight forward. I completed the online forms, went through the payment process and the plastic credit card style licence arrived a week later along with the latest book of rules and regs. Easy! As highlighted in an earlier WildernessTrout post, Fish & Game has introduced a few new licence options this year, that might offer better value for money to occasional anglers or those who prefer to focus on fishing a single region.

trout flies in box
trout flies in box

Next up is equipment. Perhaps that floating line wasn’t living up to it’s description last time out… maybe your landing net was consumed by heavy bush on a previous adventure… car doors and rods have a habit of coming together in a very destructive way… and trout flies will have divorced from your tippet in favour of a union with assorted riparian flora. The bottom-line is, you’ll probably need to replace and prepare stuff. Personally I quite enjoy cleaning rods, greasing reels, dressing fly lines etc, but that’s probably just my OCD showing through! Whatever your approach, giving a little thought to getting kitted-out now will help ensure you’re ready to go on 1 October.

The style of fishing will also have a bearing on the choice of equipment. If you are hoping to cast a delicate dry fly to rising fish using a light weight set up, you might be in for a long day. In reality early season fly fishing is mostly about getting a nymph down to the trout. In a fast flowing river this can be achieved using a tungsten nymph under a strike indicator, or even swinging a wet fly/streamer across the current using a fast sinking fly line. A smaller creek will allow for a lighter rod but you will still need to get your flies down through the water column. Leaders and tippets can be on the heavier side, given the fish will be a little less wary. Also a heavier tippet gives you a better chance of landing a big strong fish in fast water. Whatever approach you adopt you’ll find it easier if you select the right tackle for the job and get it ready in advance.

What’s your casting like? I’ve been fly fishing for over 30 years and consider myself to be pretty proficient with a fly rod but I still get rusty if I haven’t cast for a while. If you’ve been winter fishing then you’ll be fine, but if not, it might be a good idea to polish up your technique before heading out. You don’t even need water, a patch of grass will be fine – as long as you have enough space.

Deciding on a destination is probably the sexiest part of planning for the new season. I must confess my early season trips tend to revolve around tried-and-tested locations. The choice is usually driven by the potential to catch larger fish that are less wary than normal, courtesy of the fact that they’ve not seen an angler for a few months. However if you are looking for a change from the norm, the internet provides a great opportunity to gather information about new places and help plan trips. Websites such as www.nzfishing.com include loads of info about places to fish, successful methods and even accommodation.

So you’ve decided where to fish. All done, right? Well no, not quite. Now is a good time to consider the weather! The start of the trout fishing season in New Zealand occurs during one of the wettest and most unpredictable times of the year. Many rivers can easily become unfishable following periods of heavy rain, forcing you into a last minute search for an alternative spot or even to abandon fishing altogether.

To avoid this last minute frustration it’s much easier to already have a ‘Plan B’ in mind. Websites such as the Met Service can be very useful in the final weeks before the trip, as can a number of other resources.

With a bit of thought and planning you can ensure you get the best out of your start to the season. Tight lines!

James Barnett

New Season New Licence

Fish and Game NZ recently circulated an email campaign asking “Are You Ready?” This simple question marks the build up to the new 2015/16 season which opens on 1 October, and also encourages people to get in early and buy a licence online.

“To help you get ahead of the fish, we’ve opened up the online licence buying facility so you can get hooked up early with one of the durable plastic licences – and be all set to go on Opening Day, 1 October. Your plastic licence will be mailed within five working days of you completing this order. It may take seven to ten days to arrive by post in your letterbox” says the campaign release.

This year see’s the introduction of a number of new licence options that will offer anglers the chance to fine tune their licence to fit with fishing plans – apparently not everyone shares my need to fish in a variety of locations at the drop of a hat!

Local area, loyal senior, family and non resident options are among the full season licences available, with a number of part season options also on offer. A handy Fish and Game table helps makes sense of it all – click image to see a larger version.

Fish and Game Fishing Licence options for 2015/16
Fish and Game Fishing Licence options for 2015/16

As usual I’ll be opting for the gold plated fish till you drop option – Full Whole Season. Find out which option suits your level of obsession at the Fish And Game NZ website:

On a serious note, it’s very important that all anglers buy the right licence before going fishing. The funds raised through licence fees are used by Fish and Game to protect and nurture our fisheries. With the huge pressure currently on our freshwater resources they need every cent they can get. Find out more about some of the environmental threats here>

So, get in quick to secure your licence. This will give you more time to work out where you’re going to kick-off the new season, determine a ‘plan B’ for when the weather turns to crap, identify what new gear you’re going to need…

James Barnett