The Angler in the Environment: Social, Economic, Biological, and Ethical Dimensions

Interaction between Recreational and Commercial Fishers: The Importance of Social Capital in Stakeholder Agreements. A Case Study from New Zealand’s Billfish Fishery

John C. Holdsworth and Kim A. R. Walshe


Abstract .—For more than 80 years, the summer recreational fishery for striped marlin Kajikia audax in northern New Zealand has lured anglers from home and abroad. Well-organized fishing clubs have kept accurate records of individual catches. These records show that there has been a significant decline in total club catches and average weight of striped marlin since surface long lining commenced in the southwestern Pacific Ocean in the 1950s. In 1987, a time area closure for distant water longline vessels was introduced in the New Zealand exclusive economic zone. After a trial period, the prohibition on commercial fishers landing marlin became permanent and nationwide. Strengthening the tenure of fishing rights to striped marlin in New Zealand has increased sport fishers’ participation in research and management. Having a national representative organization, the New Zealand Big Game Fishing Council, has been instrumental in building social capital with commercial interests and government that has shaped the management framework for marlin. However, there are a number of barriers to sustaining this world class recreational fishery; we suggest how some of these problems might be overcome.