By Keira Stephenson
The Westport fishing fleet’s albacore tuna catch is up about 150 tonnes on the same time last year.
There were about 54 boats fishing out of Westport currently and the season was off to an unusually early start, said Talley’s Fisheries’ administrator Lee Robertson.
The first catch had come in on December 23 and staff had worked through the Christmas period, minus the statutory holidays, unloading, said Ms Robertson.
“We haven’t unloaded before January for quite a few years”. However, no extra staff were required. Normally the season went from January to March, with February as the best month, but some fi shed until May. She couldn’t tell how the rest of the season would pan out.
People were putting the early catch down to La Niña weather patterns creating warmer oceans. Ms Robertson said it could also be that the tuna had always been here in December but no one had realised before.
The season started in the North Island and worked its way down as temperatures rose. The tuna didn’t come up to feed until the water temperature was about 18degC, she said.
The News reported local ocean temperatures were about 1degC hotter than normal last month.
The Ministry for the Environment website reported that globally the ocean had warmed by more than 0.7degC over the last 100 years.