Newsletter February 2024

  • 22/02/2024

Newsletter February 2024

Tēnā koutou

Happy New Year, I hope everyone is getting a chance to get out in nature this summer. I certainly enjoyed getting out hunting in Pohangina in the Manawatu recently. What a privilege it is to live in this beautiful country.

Welcome to the first edition of our newsletter to keep you informed about the work Fish & Game does to serve the interests of anglers and hunters in New Zealand and protect, conserve and rewild New Zealand’s natural habitats.



This year will be another busy one for Fish & Game. We have a new government and a dedicated Minister for Hunting and Fishing in Todd McClay.

We will work closely with the Government to embed in law opportunities for freshwater fishing and hunting both now and in the future. This will include providing access to the places we fish and hunt, and ensuring valued introduced species are recognised. We will ensure the role of Fish & Game is retained within conservation laws, and that firearms laws enable access to and use of firearms for recreational hunting.

We will be advocating on behalf of licence holders to ensure New Zealand’s rivers and lakes are healthy, and wetlands are protected, while changes are made to reduce regulatory bureaucracy. Resource Management Act (RMA) changes are coming, and we will seek strong and enduring outcomes that benefit all New Zealanders. We will also work with primary industry and catchment groups to implement collaborative solutions.

Ultimately, we want to safeguard the public recreational use of the natural environment and ensure the longstanding protection of the habitat of trout and salmon is retained. It’s critical that future generations can enjoy fishing, hunting and the great outdoors.

You can read our Briefing to the Incoming Minister here

Good result in action to protect licence holders

Just before Christmas, we were alerted to the Fish Assistant website, an unauthorised internationally based provider selling fish licences. We were concerned that this website was charging anglers significantly more than they should be, licences were being altered, and the wrong licences were being provided to them.

We acted quickly, working with our licence operator ESL, the Government’s Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT NZ), and the Department of Conservation to stop further transactions. We publicised the issue with a media release and a series of media interviews, including this story on 1 News.

We are concerned that anglers' credit card details risk being compromised, as the website is not processing these payments through an accredited payment system. We have contacted the affected people to suggest they take steps to secure their bank account information.

There is only one authorised place to purchase your fishing licence online: through the Fish & Game NZ website.

You can also purchase a licence in-store at one of our many retail outlet partners throughout the country.

For licence queries, call 0800 542 362

World Wetlands Day celebrated

Fish & Game celebrated World Wetlands Day on February 2 from one end of the country to the other with events in Northland all the way to Otago.

In Northland we marked the completion of an ambitious project to rewild a once grazed Northland valley into a lush wetland. 

The Underwood Wetland project near Dargaville began seven years ago.

The 342-hectare area includes remnant kauri, hardwood forest and wetland, and river flats containing scatterings of kahikatea. It's home to threatened species, including the kauri snail, the North Island fernbird, marsh crake and Australasian bittern. 

The land was purchased from local farmers David and Gloria Underwood by a $600,000 grant from the Nature Heritage Fund with $55,000 from the Northland Fish & Game Council for survey costs in 2016. About 300ha of the native forest was then classified as scenic reserve to be administered by the Department of Conservation. The remaining 40ha of grassed valley floor and surrounds was vested to Northland Fish & Game Council as Local Purpose Reserve for development of a wetland.  

The development work for the wetland has primarily been funded by $122,000 from the Northland Fish & Game Council and the Game Bird Habitat Trust, who gave $137,900 to fund the project. This totals $259,900 of money derived from the sale of hunting licences going directly back into the creation of wildlife habitat. Costs for access to the property were shared with the Department of Conservation, and grants for plantings have also been received from Kaipara Moana Remediation and the One Billion Trees Programme for native plantings. Planting work has been completed by Fish & Game staff as well as a significant volunteer effort from hunters and other supporters of the project. 

Read more here or in this article: Northland’s Underwood Wetland reversing habitat loss - NZ Herald

Want to net some cash while you are out fishing over the summer break?

Take a snap and share your photos in our Snap’n’Share photo comp, and you could win a share of $2,000 in prizes!

We have monthly competitions running until the end of March, with a $250 voucher for each month's winner and an additional $1,000 to give to the overall winner.

Follow the link below to enter. Please read the full terms and conditions and make sure your photo complies with the competition rules.

#ReWildSnap #ReWildAotearoa

Photo competition

Our ReWild campaign continues to go great guns. Rewild is a celebration of the incredible fishing and hunting experiences our country offers.

It is intended to build widespread support for fishing and hunting across New Zealand so we can continue to enjoy and preserve these traditions for the future. It also highlights the great work we do and encourage more people to give fishing and hunting a go.

Here's how you can help:

Right across New Zealand, people are hooked on freshwater fishing, with new data showing what a popular pastime it is.

The latest National Angler Survey, conducted by NIWA for Fish & Game every seven years, records angling activity for all lake, river and hydro canal fisheries managed by Fish & Game.

About 92,000 angling licences were sold in New Zealand for the survey period (December 2021-October 2022) – down by around 10 per cent from the previous survey, likely due to Covid lockdowns and international travel restrictions. Almost 97 percent of angler days were attributed to New Zealand resident long-term season licence holders.

Total angler usage was 991,700 angler days – 38 per cent of angler days were for lakes, and 62 percent were for rivers and hydro canals. 

Everyone has their favourite fishing spot, but the survey showed Lake Rotoiti in the Bay of Plenty and the Clutha River/Mata-au in Otago were the most popular locations.

The top three lakes to fish were Rotoiti, Benmore in Canterbury and Wakatipu in Otago. Rotoiti and Benmore each had more than 30,000 angler days, and Wakatipu had more than 26,000.

The most-fished three rivers were the Clutha/Mata-au, with about 31,000, followed by the Waimakariri (30,500) and the Rakaia (19,200), both in Canterbury.

The Central South Island hydro canals were once again the most popular Fish and Game-managed combined freshwater fishery in the country, with almost 118,000 angler days.

These findings are a great snapshot of how many Kiwis are getting out in nature, fishing for fun, food and their mental health and doing something together with family and friends.

Fishing is not only great for physical and mental well-being but also an escape from the daily grind. It helps build bonds with family and friends, teaches essential life skills, nurtures an ethos of environmental conservation, and fosters independence.

Read articles here:

 Read the full survey here.

Pictured are Rhys and Nico Adams making the most of the early season spring fishing in the Opihi Catchment.

The latest development in the gold clams response is that the infested part of the Waikato River and lakes has been made a Controlled Area under the Biosecurity Act.

This brings in a new biosecurity rule to stop wake boats used on the infected parts of the Waikato from travelling to other areas. 

We have been advocating for a stronger focus at the source of the problem in the Waikato River, where the gold clams were first discovered. It means all wake boats using the stretch of the Waikato River from the Whakamaru Dam down to the river mouth at Port Waikato cannot be used in other waterways without a permit.

We pushed for action at ground zero of the outbreak, and we want to avoid ad hoc closures of lakes and rivers across the country. 

We have been working hard behind the scenes with Biosecurity New Zealand and other groups, so we’re pleased our concerns have been heard. 

Fish & Game recognise the concerns of our wider communities, including anglers, around the closure of Lake Ōkataina and potential wider closures of significant freshwater bodies in the Rotorua region and further afield. 

We hope the stronger focus on the Waikato River means communities around the Rotorua Lakes region are reassured that the right steps are being taken to reduce the risk of transmission to other valued lakes and rivers. We’re pleased to see Lake Ōkaitana restrictions relaxed, with the lake available for fishing for more hours over the summer period.

At the same time, we must make sure we are not creating a risk ourselves through our fishing activities. We all need to do our bit by following the Check Clean Dry guidelines if we will move between lakes and rivers.

Fish & Game staff member Ben Febery's trout recipe

The trout recipe is simple and old-school. 

  1. Gut, head & tail the fish.
  2. Fill the cavity with butter, generous lemon slices, salt & pepper or any other secret combination of herbs & spices. I'm going to experiment with ginger next time.
  3. Wrap tightly in tinfoil to stop it drying out. 
  4. Bake at 180 for ~25 minutes (note: large trout may require a bit longer).
  5. When it's cooked, the skin should easily peel off, allowing you to remove the flesh from the top side. 
  6. Pulling from the head end, the spine and rib bones can be removed in one go - this makes it safer eating for those feeding young kids.
  7. Then, the flesh on the lower side can be accessed and removed from the skin underneath.
  8. Season to taste. 

Enjoy on crackers or served with an Israeli couscous salad.

(Note: If oven space allows, the head can be left on - the 'cheek' is delicious)


Corina Jordan

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