Seafood New Zealand Friday Update 4 December 2015

 

 


Friday Update is Seafood New Zealand's weekly email from our Chief Executive.

Captain's Blog
Friday, December 4, 2015

 

 

Great white fears on the rise

 

 

 

Holiday makers were afraid to go in the water in Jaws’ fictional town of Amity.
In real life Stewart islanders are staying ashore, afraid of the great white sharks being attracted by commercial cage dive operations.
Their fears and frustrations came to the fore at Parliament’s local and government select committee in Wellington this week.
Crib owner Kenneth McAnergney, speaking to a petition in the name of Helen Cave signed by 768 people, called for shark diving near their homes to be stopped immediately and permanently.
Descended from Maori and the first settlers, he spoke eloquently of the mystique of Stewart Island, surrounded by vast tracts of the Southern Ocean on three sides in the Roaring Forties latitudes.
The island’s official visitor guide states: Our island offers a special experience, a glimpse into a simpler, slower lifestyle, in rhythm with the sea and the  tides, attuned to the natural world of the bush and the beach.”
The shark cage diving operations off Edwards Island just 4.86 nautical miles from the main settlement of Halfmoon Bay have now altered that balance.
The bathing beach at Halfmoon should now have its name changed, Mr McAnergney said.
“During the summer, locals and visitors swim in these waters. They also dive for paua, kina, crayfish, blue cod, green bone. Children from the local school used to have their kayak classes in these waters across the road from the school. These activities are no longer safe for kids or visitors.”
Locals are convinced the behaviour of the great whites is being altered and they are becoming unusually aggressive towards boats.
They say the luring of sharks to the dive boats with fish bait is teaching them to associate boats and people with an easy, tasty feed.
There is no doubt there is a demand for getting up close with the magnificent predators.
Both operators promoting shark cage diving for several summers are stepping up their operations with moves to bigger boats and more clients.
There is no shortage of tourists prepared to pay $600 plus to don wetsuits and hop in a cage to get up close with the great whites that always turn up.
The operations – Peter Scott’s Shark Dive NZ and Mikes Haines’ Shark Experience - are overseen by the Department of Conservation under permits with a number of conditions.
Paua Industry Council chair Stormalong Stanley, who represents local divers, has no faith in the Government’s policing of permits.
He says then Conservation Minister Nick Smith promised Stewart Islanders in 2014 that if the operators breached their permit conditions, they would not be allowed to continue.
“We obtained evidence of numerous breaches recorded by DOC observers, but not only did DOC fail to revoke the permits, they have now renewed them for a further season,” he said this week.
He also took issue with DOC’s claim that a recent international review of shark cage diving it commissioned indicates there is no evidence shark cage diving increases the risk to water users.
“What the report really says is that there have been no scientific studies of shark behaviour towards humans in areas where shark cage diving occurs.
“On the other hand there is strong and reliable anecdotal evidence that great white sharks are becoming more aggressive in the waters near Stewart Island since the establishment of two shark cage diving operations nearby.”
Ken McAnergney says the sharks should be hunting seals, not hanging around boats like ravenous dogs.
“I live in fear and dread of there being a fatality.”
The number of the wide ranging great whites identified in Stewart Island waters is astonishingly high at 120, with an estimated 25 being resident over the past two years, according to shark expert Clinton Duffy.
The irony is the great whites are fully protected under the Wildlife Act.
But who protects the humans?

Tim Pankhurst

 

 

Follow Seafood New Zealand

 

 

 

Browse through our latest issue

 

 

 

 

Sealord pitches in with sailor rescue

Congratulations to the crew of Sealord's Fishing Vessel Otakou!
Maritime New Zealand praised the Otakou crew for its immediate response to a mayday call by a 70-year-old solo sailor 20km off the Wairarapa coast. The man had been struck on the head by his vessel’s boom.
The Otakou crew brought the sailor on board with their rescue boat. The injured man was winched to safety and flown to Wellington Hospital after a Westpac Rescue helicopter flew to the scene and lowered a paramedic and a Maritime Police officer with sailing experience on to the fishing vessel.
Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand's search and rescue mission coordinator Chris Wilson said the prompt actions of the Otakou crew in retrieving the man from his yacht and communicating with the helicopter made the winch operation safer.

 

In the Media

 

 

Cawthron and Sanford team up for $1million mussel research

Stuff (December 2) reported on the Cawthron Institute and Sanford Ltd teaming up in new mussel research that's attracted $1 million in Government funding over three years. The research would examine the health benefits of Greenshell™ mussels, and look at their potential anti-inflammatory qualities, improved joint and bone health and increased mobility. Mussels are primarily promoted as a whole product, but the new project aimed to add more value by fully understanding and proving their known health benefits, Cawthron marine lipids chemist and programme leader Dr Matt Miller said.
Click here for full report

 

 

A diver on a mussel farm. Photo: Cawthron Institute

 

 

Seaweed as feed for vineyards

Stuff (December 1) reported on a Marlborough marine farmer turning kelp growth into plant feed for vineyards. Mussel farmer Mick Norton was interested in finding a use for kelp within Marlborough's young and developing grape industry. He said kelp was a natural soil conditioner, encouraging earthworms and offering good health to both soil and the plants that grew in it. After years of work, he developed two products, a foliar spray and a kelp pulp product.
Click here for full report

 

 

Marine farmer Mick Norton has developed two kinds of plant feed for vineyards using kelp. Photo: Fairfax

 

 

Chathams' new fish factory

Radio New Zealand (November 30) reported on Aotearoa Fisheries Ltd putting the final touches on its new $3million factory in the Chatham Islands. The report quoted Chatham Islands mayor Alfred Preece saying the move was very heartening as the factory was the first major investment in fish processing facilities since the 1960s.
Click here for full report
Listen to the story

 

 

 

Sanford donates 60,000 smolt to Lake Tekapo 

Stuff (December 2) reported on Sanford's smolt donation from its commercial salmon farm boosting Lake Tekapo's salmon population by 60,000. Central South Island Fish & Game officer Rhys Adams said Sanford's donation equaled the highest number previously gifted from commercial salmon farms.
Click here for full report

 

 

 

HMNZS Otago. Photo: Radio NZ

 

Only two illegal toothfishing boats left, MFAT says 

Radio New Zealand (November 26) reported on the patrol vessel HMNZS Otago leaving Dunedin for a one-month annual monitoring trip in the Ross Sea. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said it had made significant progress this year. Of the seven unregulated and unreported fishing vessels which have regularly fished the area, five have been detained in international ports and one was scuttled, it said.
Click here for full report