New maritime regulations which could affect kite and kontiki fishers in the area from East Cape to Wellington are to be introduced nationwide over the next few months.
The new regulation, MSA rule 91, if given strict interpretation on it's own, will not only affect kite and kontiki fishing but also will affect commercial or recreational crab pots, cray pots, set nets, mussel farms, longlines and any other fishing
equipment in the water.
We have checked with the MSA legal advisor Tim Workman and Ian Lancaster. Rule 91 relates to people not being able to place any obstruction, including any fishing apparatus, which unduly restricts navigation or is likely to cause loss of life or injury
to any person or damage to any vessel or any property.
Rule 91 was originally proposed to deal with nets being set across busy channels. Tim says it is open to debate whether it applies to kites or kontikis.
Flags on kitelines could be construed as an effort to minimise the likelihood of damage. MSA Rule 91 has not been signed off by the Minister and is not likely to be in force till January 2003.
Rule 91 only applies if the local regional council does not have a bylaw in their own set of rules.
Local regional authorities all around the country are standardising their bylaws regards maritime activities.
Napier's new bylaw (bylaw 2.7) is expected be effective as of December this year.
To balance rule 91 vessel operators are required to maintain a watch at all times.
This means that if gear is clearly marked the vessel must take action to avoid colliding with the marked gear.
The new rule appears to favour trawlers, seine vessles and scallop dredgers, as these methods require the whole of the water column over the whole of the distance the vessel travels while fishing.
Fortunately most areas have trawl exclusion zones in the inshore areas where kites and kontikis operate and there is no scallop dredging on the west coast.
On the down side the area from East Cape to Wellington has no trawl exclusion zone. Kite and kontiki fishers who have poorly marked gear in this area in particular are at risk from trawlers.
Kite and kontiki fishers in all other areas should also take note of the new rule 91. This rule applies to any gear in any area, so be aware of the possibility of recreational or commercial vessels in the area you are fishing.
Paul's Fishing Kites will be closely following the implementation of rule 91 and will keep you informed of any developments.
In the meantime use common sense, avoid fishing in areas near boat ramps, navigation channels or where other recreational activities could cause conflicts and ensure your gear is clearly marked.
If you see a trawler heading towards your gear, haul it in. Trawlers only travel at around four knots when fishing which should give you plenty of time to get out of their way. Above all keep a good lookout!