Experience: Commercial Fisherman, EcoTour Operator
Regions: Otago, Cook Strait, Catlins, Foveaux Strait, Stewart Osland
Interview Location: Karitane, NZ
Interview Date: 03 November 2015
Post Date: 17 May 2017; Copyright © 2017 Allan Anderson and Steve Crawford
3. WHITE POINTER DISTRIBUTION AND ABUNDANCE
CRAWFORD: With so few observations over time, was there anything the old-timers said about either White Pointer migrations or particular places that they said were maybe a reproduction area or a pupping area?
ANDERSON: No, no.
CRAWFORD: Not within your knowledge, not around Karitane or Otago, nothing further south?
ANDERSON: No, I don’t remember anyone talking about pupping, or even small, real small White Pointers. That one I caught in the setnet would be the smallest White Pointer I’ve seen.
CRAWFORD: And that was six feet, seven feet long?
ANDERSON: Yeah something like that. That’s the smallest.
CRAWFORD: In terms of general fish migrations, most of the fish that you’ve seen seasonally, have they been in the summer?
ANDERSON: That’s it. Definitely the summer. Yeah. And around Christmas time.
CRAWFORD: Well, which is the height of summer here?
ANDERSON: Yeah. And that was Christmas time there. This was January, February, the ones here. That was Christmas time there.
CRAWFORD: What are the top three regions in the broader context of New Zealand North Island, South Island coastal waters, when you think White Pointers, you think where?
ANDERSON: Stewart Island. Chatham Islands.
CRAWFORD: Right, and we said we were going to come back to what you were going to say about the Chatham Islands again. First of all, do you know people, old-timers who have lifetime experiences over at the Chatham Islands?
ANDERSON: I met a guy called Tony Anderson. At this fishing cadetship course that I did in 1980. And he was doing the same course, and he talked a lot about White Pointers and how common they were, and the divers and how often they would see them, and all the rest of it.
CRAWFORD: Do you know whether he’s still around fishing or ...
ANDERSON: I don’t know. Like I say, that was 1980 I saw him last you know. No - actually, I heard of him about 10 years ago, and he was still fishing.
CRAWFORD: Likely he went into commercial fishing like you did?
ANDERSON: Yeah. I remember him talking about White Pointers, he was the only Chatham Islands guy I knew. But I’ve seen on the television where they’ve gone out looking for White Pointers to catch them, and they’ve caught them there.
CRAWFORD: Catch them recreational fishing?
ANDERSON: Yeah Matt Watson. On that program.
CRAWFORD: What program?
ANDERSON: ITM fishing show. They did one on White Pointers, and they had several gos, well they caught multiple fish, I think.
CRAWFORD: That’s huge, thank you. That show’s based out of Auckland?
ANDERSON: I’m not sure where they are ... I think so, I think so.
CRAWFORD: I’ll find out.
ANDERSON: But that’s how common they are over there, like "Hey, let's go do a show on catching a White Pointer" and they go and catch one. So, very sharky place. And you know the divers and that - they all talk about them.
CRAWFORD: The divers, as in recreational divers?
ANDERSON: Yeah, the commercial guys. Also, the guys that dive for Crayfish commercially. The only place in New Zealand that they’re allowed to do it.
CRAWFORD: These Paua and Crayfish divers, do you know any of them?
ANDERSON: Yeah. Lee Cloth I think his name is. Track him down through the federation of commercial fisherman. Because he was a representative on that. And he was a Pāua diver, Crayfish diver at the Chathams for years.
CRAWFORD: Is he still there?
ANDERSON: No, I think he could be in Christchurch or something.
CRAWFORD: Ok, that’s good. In terms of White Pointers - you think Stewart Island, you think Chatham Islands. Do you think of any place else around the South Island?
ANDERSON: Yeah, I think they’ve had a bit of activity up in the Foveaux Strait area, you know?
CRAWFORD: You hear from commercial guys? Or you hear it from whom?
ANDERSON: Yeah, I think I’ve seen pictures of up there as well. Pictures and stuff of boats that have caught them while they’ve been longlining for Groper and stuff like that as well. See the thing about the sharks is, the big White Pointers, you tend to find them in places where there’s a lot of food. Either around Seal colonies, or these big Groper patches. Because Groper are big fish. I think the White Pointers sort of ... we find big patches of fish and the White Pointers are living there eating them regularly as well.
CRAWFORD: From the White Pointer’s perspective, what do you think is the split between them feeding on fish versus them feeding on Seals, Sea Lions.
ANDERSON: I think there’s well documented about them eating [Seals and Sea Lions].
CRAWFORD: Which means specifically the haul-outs and the rookeries where they’re having their pups?
ANDERSON: Yeah. I was always told, like I dived all the time, and they said, "Don’t dive around the Seal colonies," you know?
ANDERSON: Always told that. Don’t. Stay away from high concentrations of Seals.
CRAWFORD: And not because of the Seals?
ANDERSON: No. Because of the sharks living there and eating the Seals.
CRAWFORD: Let's get back to Foveaux Strait. Do you know anybody from that region, long-time fisherman? Is there a lead or somebody who you know who would know?
ANDERSON: Yeah, another Anderson. Graham Anderson.
CRAWFORD: No relation.
ANDERSON: No. He’s down there, and his father was a fisherman. And they used to fish around the backside of Stewart Island and stuff like that.
CRAWFORD: Is he a Bluffy?
ANDERSON: Yeah. And his dad lives in Wakouati up here. Five minutes away. And he’s like an oldtime fisherman in fact. He’s, you know you talk to him about Seal colonies and things like that. He’s got to know something for sure. Because years ago, they used to club the Seals and use them for bait in the crayfish pots you know? This is probably 60, 70 years ago.
CRAWFORD: And Graham - is he a long-liner?
ANDERSON: No. Mainly Crayfish. And I suppose for crayfisherman, they don’t have that many interactions with White Pointers.
CRAWFORD: Not as much as codpotters and setnetters and longliners? Has longlining reduced over time?
ANDERSON: Nah. Well, all those big fish have sort of you know, we’ve caught them all to be honest. A lot of these fish. I used to catch Bass out here, Bass Groper. And at the time when we were catching them, I thought they’d never run out, you know? Because we’d get, we’d catch two tonne a day - and big fish. And then we didn’t. One day we just caught the last one, and that was it. They could be 50 years old, some of those fish.
CRAWFORD: Yes. And if they come back ...
ANDERSON: They’ll never come back.
CRAWFORD: Cook Strait, you said before it was sharky, in some ways. What do you figure might be happening up there?
ANDERSON: Food. A lot of food. A lot of water.
CRAWFORD: The New Zealand Government has protected White Pointers. What do you think about that, is that necessary?
ANDERSON: I think so. Because otherwise the trophy fishermen of the world will go and catch them and hang them up.
That’s an important point. You think the Government targeted the shark recreational fishery as a clear and present danger to the White Pointer population?
ANDERSON: Oh absolutely. If they’re taken of the endangered list, well then people would want them as trophies. You know there are trophy hunters all around the world? You saw Cecil the lion or whatever get killed, and there’s plenty of those people out there. I’ve taken shark fisherman out, you know? I have a charter vessel and we used to catch, had a lot of guys in and if they’re allowed to take a White Pointer, they would take one.
CRAWFORD: And you never had anybody tie on a White Pointer?
ANDERSON: No I think we might have saw one once, but I’m not 100 percent sure.
CRAWFORD: What other priority threats do you think would be up there in terms of …
ANDERSON: Habitat. Loss of habitat.
CRAWFORD: What do you mean by ‘habitat’?
ANDERSON: Well, the water. The water they swim in and where they swim in. Most of these places that we do see them is nice clear, clean water. Like Foveaux here, Cook Strait, quite clean and clear. But Canterbury Bight and places, it’s not very clear at all. There’s a lot of sedimentation in the water and stuff, run-off from land and that. They like the nice blue water, as far as I know. They don’t like to be in that murky horrible water, so as more things happen on land here and more sediment and stuff is going into the ocean and getting suspended in the ocean, it’s changing the habitat. We’re losing habitat really quickly.
CRAWFORD: You’re the first person I’ve spoken to that’s brought up habitat. Let’s go back to a comment you made about the kind of raw offal from the freezer works into coastal water. That’s one thing, but you’re talking about other land-based activities getting dumped out into the ocean?
ANDERSON: Yeah, sedimentation. It’s something that I’ve been watching for a long time here. Because I used to be a diver, and you could dive in certain places, and the water was nice and clean, and then it sort of started getting dusty. The bottom started getting dustier and dustier and dustier. And then it’s got to the stage where you can’t really dive there anymore, because it’s never clean, you know? Every time it blows, or a bit of swell comes, this dust is re-suspended in the water column all the time and it’s dirty. And the stuff on the bottom, it’s not growing anymore, and it’s a dead zone. It’s a dusty dead zone. And that's happening really quickly. Places like Stewart Island and that, there’s not a lot happening there yet. So, all the soils and that are retained, and all the bits and pieces - because of the native bush, I suppose. But anyway, like here [Karitane], where all up this coast here, the water is getting dirty and dirty. You fly and you can see it all coming out the rivers, and see all the sedimentation, and it’s smothering habitat really, really quickly. And it’s just more land-use all through here. There’s deforestation.
CRAWFORD: Do you get the same type of land-use, negative effects on coastal waters up in the Cook Strait?
ANDERSON: There’s so much water that comes through here you see?
CRAWFORD: A flushing effect?
ANDERSON: Yeah. Round this area there’s quite a lot of sedimentation in this part of it here. And then of course all the way down here, it’s really bad. There are massive pieces of ocean that are becoming dead zones. Through sedimentation.
Copyright © 2017 Allan Anderson and Steve Crawford