Fisheries New Zealand sets new catch limits

Photo: Government of New Zealand

Fisheries New Zealand will impose changes to catch limits for 14 fish stocks as well as introduce a full year-round closure to harvesting shellfish at Cockle Bay/Tuwakamana on Auckland’s east coast.

“Of the 14 stocks reviewed, catch limits will increase for five stocks, four will decrease, and five remain unchanged,” said Emma Taylor, Director of Fisheries Management.The Cockle Bay closure will come into effect on May 1, 2021, which is when the beach would have previously opened under the current seasonal closure that is in place.

The following came into effect on Thursday, April 1:

  • Giant spider crab in the Chatham Rise, South East Coast, and Southland/Southern offshore islands (GSC 3, 5, and 6A) – increases to catch limits reflecting the increased abundance of stock.
  • Red rock lobster in Gisborne (CRA 3) and Wellington/Hawke’s Bay (CRA 4) – catch limits will decrease to ensure the stocks remain sustainable.
  • Red rock lobster in Northland (CRA 1) and Canterbury/Marlborough (CRA 5) – no change to limits as stocks are currently at sustainable levels. These will continue to be closely monitored.
  • Packhorse rock lobster nation-wide (PHC 1) – a moderate catch increase. Information shows this stock is doing well and more can be sustainability harvested.

Catch limits to the following will come into effect on October 1, 2021:

  • Blue cod in the Chatham Islands (BCO 4) – a Total Allowable Catch (TAC) has been set for the first time. The commercial catch limit will remain unchanged.
  • Elephantfish in the West Coast and top of the South Island (ELE 7) – no change to catch limits.
  • Flatfish in the East Cape, Hawke’s Bay, Wellington, and Taranaki (FLA 2) – catch limits will be decreased due to sustainability concerns if fully fished.
  • Dark ghost shark in the East Coast of Northland, Auckland, and the Bay of Plenty (GSH 1) – a TAC has been set for the first time. Available information suggests there is an opportunity for increased utilisation. As such, a small increase to the Total Allowable Commercial Catch (TACC) has also been made.
  • Giant stargazer (STA 1) in Waikato, Auckland, Northland, and Bay of Plenty – a TAC has been set for the first time. The commercial catch limit will remain unchanged.
  • Yellow-eyed mullet in Waikato, the West Coast of Auckland and Northland (YEM 9) – a decrease to the catch limits to ensure sustainable management and respond to environmental impacts on the fishery.

“New science suggests packhorse rock lobster populations have increased in recent years, which means more can be sustainably harvested. A total allowable catch limit will be set for the first time and a moderate increase made to the commercial catch limit.”

Ms Taylor added that the changes to catch limits for flatfish and yellow-eyed mullet take into consideration factors on the marine ecosystem that may affect productivity, such as habitat degradation or pollution.

“We review stocks in April and October every year, using the best scientific information available, to determine if changes are required to management settings to ensure our fisheries remain sustainable. If the science tells us more fish can be sustainably caught, then we increase the catch limits. However, if this information shows the opposite, we look to reduce the catch limits to help rebuild stocks.”


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