Monthly Archives: Dec 2011

The cost of fishing

Lemonfish and bags of gear

It would be interesting to know what the recreational fishing hobby, or sport if you want to call it that, generates in dollar terms for New Zealand economy every year.
At a time when most of our commercial catch seems to be harvested by non-kiwis in foreign ships and exported to foreign nations. How much, if any, of that money actually ends up in the pockets of the everyday Kiwi to be recirculated into our economy?

I can’t speak for recreational boaties who fish, but I can for surfcasting, at least for my own experiences in surfcasting.

What do I spend on fishing, per kilogram of fish that ends up on my table?

Like boat fishing, surfcasting has a few large one-time fixed expenses which should be considered capital costs.
These are costs incurred before you can even wet a line, and not re-incurred until the equipment is replaced due to wear and tear, or upgrades etc.

The ‘running costs’ of the fishing hobby are things like terminal tackle, hooks, line, lures, sinkers, bait, petrol, etc.
So sticking with what I know, surfasting, I’ll run though some basics.

Fixed costs – capital items:
2 rods.
2 reels.
2 rod stands,
1 tackle box,
1 knife,
I chillybin
( I won’t include my 4wd vehicle because that gets used for other things as well as fishing)
Total replacement cost for those items? Lets say approx $2000.00

Running costs – expendable items
Petrol (to get to and from the location)
Bait (usually a bag of pilchards and a skipjack, but may include mussels, prawns etc)
Terminal tackle (hooks, traces, sinkers, floats, lost or damaged during fishing etc)
Approximate outlay for my average fishing trip within 100km of home?  Lets say about $100.00 on average.

Note: (this cost can vary considerably with variables such as distance travelled, types and quantities of bait purchased, and gear lost/or not,)

Now we must tally the amount of fish we catch against the cost of catching it. This is where things become very sobering.  There are of course outings when you do not catch any fish at all. This means  those costs ‘jackpot’ onto the costs for the next outing and so on until some fish are caught.
On average I would say optimistically, 50% of my fishing outings are productive. That is to say I have at least one fish to bring home for a feed from every two trips.
It may be a Kahawai, or if I’ve been exceptionally lucky a Gurnard or a Lemonfish. Sometimes I might have an excellent day and bring home two or three fish. Sometimes I may go many trips without a catch.
So working on the assumption that I ‘should’ catch at least one Kahawai every two trips (it often doesn’t work that well though) and that the average adult Kahawai weighs about 2kg,  I am spending at least $200 per 2kg of fish landed.  Or about $100 per fillet of fish.
This is not including the capital investment costs mentioned earlier.

Now I know there are some fishing guns out there who’s catch rate is a lot better than mine. I also know there are many who hardly ever catch anything. So I’ll consider myself in the middle  ‘Joe Average” for the purposes of this calculation.
So the average surfcaster is putting $100+ into the economy for every 1kg of fish he/she catches.
This of course doesn’t take into account those who practice ‘catch and release’ and treat fishing purely as a sport. They don’t take home any fish, so the economy gains 100% of their expenditure.

I’d be interested in comparing that with the commercial sector’s input to the economy for every kilogram of their fish that ends up on a New Zealand table…