The east Coromandel scallop fishery of North Island, New Zealand, will close for a period of two years following a request from the Ngati Hei Trust.
The closure covers scallop fishing in an area extending along the east Coromandel coastline from Anarake Point to Ruahiwihiwi Point, where Ngati Hei exercise mana moana, and includes Opito Bay. Other fishing in the area can continue under existing rules.
Emma Taylor, Fisheries New Zealand’s director of fisheries management, said public consultation on the request took place between April and May.
“We received more than 2,000 submissions, with the majority supporting a closure,” said Ms Taylor. “The feedback from tangata whenua and the public reflects the results of recent scientific surveys, commissioned by Fisheries New Zealand. These highlight concerns around the sustainability of scallop stocks right across the northern scallop fisheries, including the east Coromandel area.
“While addressing fishing activity is part of the picture, we also know that scallops are affected by land-based impacts such as sedimentation, and by changes to water quality.”
Ms Taylor added that the closure will relieve some of the pressure while work by central and local government will continue to address fishing and non-fishing related impacts.
“A large part of Opito Bay was already closed to commercial scallop harvesting, on top of seasonal restrictions for both recreational and commercial fishing. The new closure area is much larger and applies to both recreational and commercial scallop fishing. This will support scallop populations, across a larger area of the coastline and is part of the overall scallop management picture that Fisheries New Zealand is currently considering.”
The closure follows a customary rahui placed by Ngati Hei on the Opito Bay area in December to take pressure off the scallop fishery.
The closure became legally enforceable from Saturday, September 11. Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) fishery officers will continue to patrol the coast supporting public awareness and enforcing the rules.
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