Fisheries New Zealand is seeking public feedback on recommendations from the Kaikoura Marine Guardians to reopen the Kaikoura coastline on South Island to paua fishing.
Fisheries NZ’s manager for inshore fisheries south, Allen Frazer, said that shellfish and seaweed closures were introduced following the 2016 Kaikoura earthquakes, which caused significant seabed uplift along the coast, thus impacting the marine environment including the popular paua fishery.
“This is the first time we’ve closed a fishery as a result of an earthquake, and since then we’ve undertaken rigorous monitoring and research to track the recovery of paua over time,” said Frazer.
Fisheries NZ said research has provided a good baseline to measure the recovery of the fishery and where to focus attention in the future.
“The scientific research has shown an overall increase in adult and juvenile paua abundance since the fishery was closed, particularly where there was less uplift,” added Frazer, “most noticeably in the build-up of large paua in areas close to shore.”
The Kaikoura Marine Guardians, a statutory advisory committee representing interests from across the sectors, has recommended options to reopen the paua fishery later this year. The options include new management measures for the recreational fishery such as lowering the daily limit per person, the introduction of vehicle and vessel limits, and a larger minimum legal size for paua.
Fisheries NZ said the measures are designed to ensure the rebuild of the fishery is not compromised.
“Paua in the closed areas are now more easily accessible from the shoreline,” said Frazer. “This means although paua are doing well, any way forward will need to take a precautious and adaptive approach to preserve the health and recovery of this important fishery.”
Fisheries NZ is also seeking feedback on re-opening the northern part of the closed area, extending beyond the Kaikoura Marine Area to Cape Campbell/Marfells Beach.
The consultation began on May 19 and will run until July 5, 2021.
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