Mainland Catch not only aims to help anglers stay within catch limits, but also uses “citizen science” to gather much-needed data on New Zealand’s fisheries.
The official launch of the app took place on Friday at the Tautuku Fishing Club in Dunedin.
It is the result of a collaboration between Fish Mainland, Fisheries New Zealand and Plink Software, with funding from the Ministry for Primary Industries Sustainable Food & Fiber Futures and the Myers Foundation Trust.
Fish Mainland manager and Tautuku Fishing Club president Brett Bensemann said the app will help recreational anglers navigate the National Blue Cod Strategy’s traffic light system.
Blue cod catch limits are set at different numbers around the coast nationwide, depending on which color an area has been designated.
Dunedin sits on the border of two categories.
While Otago Harbor is in the orange zone with a daily limit of 10 fish per person, those heading south from Taiaroa Head pass through the green zone, where the limit is 15.
“When you’ve fished in a green zone and you’ve logged your fish in a green zone, the app will say it was caught in a green zone,” Bensemann said.
When fishermen then bring their catch into an orange zone, they would then have proof that they had complied with the regulations.
People could also log the fish they caught and released, he said.
However, it is believed that the most important aspect of the app was the ability for recreational anglers to establish a database which has been lacking until now.
The information that could now be recorded would be useful in determining the need for marine reserves or closed areas, he said.
“It’s voluntary, but if you start using the app, you start to see the need for data – there’s definitely a need for recreational data.”
It was also a safety feature, he said.
If someone didn’t return from a fishing trip as planned, the app would show when and where they used the app.
It was easy to use and roadshows would also be held to introduce people to the app, he said.
The app was to be expanded to help improve other areas, such as paua management in Kaikoura.
“There are huge possibilities in the future.”