New Zealand and the Impact of Fishing

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In the warm southwestern seas of the world, just above Australia and the Tasman Sea, lies a beautiful island country of New Zealand. Governed by the Queen herself and kept fertile and wondrous by the gods above, this sanctuary of perfect ness can only be enhanced by its superb fisheries and varied species of fish. Often pictured by many as an ideal place of the world or the favored vacation spot, for the residents of this paradise, it is not about the country, but about its fish. Even such little nuances as the names of the islands reflect the importance of fishing and the ocean for survival. The Māori refer to the South Island as “the canoe of Māui” (Te Waka-a-Māui) and the North Island as “the fish of Māui” (Te Ika-a-Māui) ("New Zealand"). For a country which has increased its export of fish by fifty times its size in the past thirty years (Starfish), it seems destined to be a leading producer of fish for the new world.

With care and admiration, it can be made sure that New Zealand lasts forever as both the best kept secret in beautiful landscape and a residual fishery.

Occupied by the seafaring British and the indigenous Polynesian peoples, fishing is surely nothing new to these residents. Occupied for hundreds of years by the great colonizers and thousands of years by the people of the canoe, they have had plenty of time to develop and perfect the techniques necessary to catch an abundance of fish. It would definitely seem as if this island larger than the United Kingdom was the ideal place to move, since the value of the sea creatures in the surrounding ocean is so great. In less than half a decade the value of its fishes can increase by more than 20 percent and the value seems to be continually increasing (Starfish). With a plethora of diversity in different species of aquatic animals that are exported, it is quite a menu that isn’t really found elsewhere, with crustaceans, squid, and strange fishes previously unknown. Certainly its uniqueness alone is a credit to its very survival. Not only does New Zealand have the resources, but it also has the all too important demand, with Australia, East Asia, a small but dedicated part of Europe, and the United States. However, the market is not always in their favor, as it is to be assumed for any harvest, sell and buy situation. In relations to the many other states it’s in cooperation with, there can be many inflections to the market caused by many things that are familiar to almost any market. The fishing season in general can be more abundant or less forgiving than the year before. The selling price of other countries could be raised or lowered. A restrictive limit put on the harvest set by the government, which may seem like a cumbersome hindrance, but actually prevents over harvesting. Problems inherent to the environment affecting the behavior and survival of fishes and ultimately the harvest can also play a key role.

Of all of the fishes and exports, the hoki reigns king. There are many traits that keep the hoki nested upon this high perch. One, it is a superior whitefish of the world that makes it to many of the fine restaurants and frozen TV-dinners. Japanese vie for them second only to America. Also, they have an abnormally fast growth rate and long life span that makes quite a difference in a demanding market. Third, the hoki’s source of food is most abundant in the area, providing sufficient means to reproduce unbounded. The hoki can be fished every day of the year, thus making the economic income from hoki a constant source. From an unprofessional position, one might think God had purposely created this species solely to be an ocean cash crop. But not everything is so easy for this fishery, such as a sustainable and ecologically sound environment for the hoki and other main fishes.

Considering the survival for this New Zealand fishery, humans play an integral, if not a completely controlling role. Luckily there is the Ministry of Fisheries to oversee and ultimately control what happens to the success of the underwater world. Over fishing of even just one species is enough to disturb an entire ecosystem. Mineral mining from the seabed can also disturb previously untouched places, killing many of the smaller creatures necessary for fish species’ diets. Even adding land, by taking debris from existing land can rob fishes of their space. This has been a problem in the past but is now well regulated. Sometimes, even other species can be caught than the ones that were intended to be, often killing them in the process of release. Perhaps the most problematic accidental catch is the fur seal. This is closely watched by the Ministry of Fisheries, as it should be, because these seals have been hunted for only personal gain for hundreds of years. Many methods have been employed to ensure the safety of the seal during capture and release. With these methods and the all seeing eye of the Ministry and Fishing Industry Association, the number of deaths per year has reduced from 800 in 1989 to 202 in 1991 (Starfish). Just as pollution is a problem in the United States, it is a problem in New Zealand as well. From objects that aren’t biodegradable to toxic chemicals, a lot needs to be cleaned up, not just them, but the pollution causing habits as well. Even ozone depletion and global warming could have an effect on the aquatic environment. New Zealand has done it share to restore populations of fish, by a means of “fish farming”. In fact, this method is so successful that it may someday become a large contributor to the export economy.

The fisheries of New Zealand are not just limited to the sea, but to freshwater as well. There may be a diversity of life in the sea, but there is also a diversity of life in the green lakes and fast rivers. With around 35 species of fish, many anglers have quite good time fishing for them, both residents and tourists (NIWA Science). Unfortunately, there are many threats to this diversity, and much needs to be done to save it. In estuaries, sea grass has been on the decline, which has led to a loss of habitat for fishes, and has made them more susceptible to predators. Also, mangroves have increased due to deforestation and the subsequent shallowing of estuaries resulting in a loss of habitat. The turbidity of the water can have a huge impact on the survival of shellfish. If the water is not clear enough, the shellfish will simply have more particulates of minerals in the water than particles of food, starving them. Pollution by contaminates is also prevalent in freshwater. Everyday urban things can add to the pollution factor if necessary steps aren’t taken. A large threat to indigenous species is the non-native species introduced by human means. The more non-native species, which might even prosper better than the original species, would mean more competition, then less food. An example of such a species would be the introduced goby Acentrogobious pflaumii. Lastly, contamination of the rivers through livestock feces can cause various diseases to the fish, just as it has to the South Branch of the Potomac River in the United States (Green).

One cannot stress enough the importance of fisheries of New Zealand. Put simply, it is solely up to the residents and fishermen to maintain this national treasure. If it isn’t, the world will lose something that it will never be able to get back. It has been shown that New Zealand’s fisheries are as varied and unique as they are valuable, both as part of this beautiful utopia and as part of the economy. The exporting of quality fish improves the foreign relations to other states and reinforces the islands’ ability of self dependence. Truly, fishing is as much a part of New Zealand as are the mountains, valleys, and hills, and hopefully, always will be.

Works CitedGreen, Malcolm. "New Zealand's Estuaries." NIWA Information Series 59(2006) 101. 8 May 2006 .

"New Zealand." Wikipedia. 8 May 2007 .

"NIWA Atlas of New Zealand Freshwater Fishes." NIWA Science. Sep. 2001. NIWA. 8 May 2007 .

Starfish. 8 May 2007. Ministry of Fisheries. 8 May 2007 .