Net Fishing

Recreational fishing often provides a valuable and relatively cheap source of food and many men are resorting to their own means in order to provide for their families.

In October 2011, five Auckland Pacific men lost their lives in three net fishing related incidents within the space of a week, prompting a call for action from the Pacific community.

The practice of net fishing in New Zealand waters is often more dangerous than that in the Pacific islands, where fishing in warm lagoons with little or no surf is very different from the unpredictable and challenging sea conditions experienced on surf coastlines where traditional methods of fishing may require some modification to suit local conditions.

In an effort to prevent further tragedy WaterSafe Auckland, in collaboration with the Pacific community, Surf Life Saving Northern Region, Auckland Council and other key stakeholders, has developed a series of safety messages that can be applied to any form of net fishing.

These align with the New Zealand Safety Codes and the International Open Water Drowning Prevention Guidelines and include:

  • Have sufficient manpower (for the conditions) to handle the net (4-5 ideal) and sufficient rope to reach the shore without having to struggle with the weight of the net
  • Clearly explain tasks and responsibilities before you start
  • Always fish with someone who has fishing experience and knows the site well
  • Never tie anything to your body – use a spreader bar to get your net to the sea floor
  • If net becomes filled with seaweed and unable to be pulled in, one end should be let go and all men used to pull other end in – having little affect on your catch
  • Always wear a lifejacket – a manual inflatable lifejacket makes it easier to move in the water

A diagram depicting safe practice was also created then combined with the messages into a brochure and poster format (see Resources list this page).

For further information on the Net Fishing Safety Project contact Harry Aonga, harry.aonga@watersafe.org.nz, ph 021 111 8674

Watch Harry talking about net fishing safety, Tagata Pasifika (14 April 2013).