Crayfish and abalone fishery closed in earthquake-affected zones
2016-11-22 12:02:25   copyfrom:    hits:

Crayfish (Photo: Daryl Sykes, New Zealand Rock Lobster Industry Council)NEW ZEALANDTuesday, November 22, 2016,02:00

Crayfish. (Photo: Daryl Sykes, New Zealand Rock Lobster Industry Council)


Click on the flag for more information about New ZealandNEW ZEALAND 
Tuesday, November 22, 2016, 02:00 (GMT + 9)


The New Zealander Government has decided to temporarily ban shellfish and seaweed harvesting along the earthquake-affected east coast of the South Island and has allocated a NZD 2 million (USD 1.5 million) package to investigate the impact of the earthquakes on these fisheries.

The decision, taken after consultation with local stakeholders and supported by the latest scientific information, was announced by Primary IndustriesMinister Nathan Guy, who also informed that there will be an initial one month closure of the crayfish fishery and three months for all remaining shellfish and seaweed species.

Minister Guy explained the earthquakes have had a devastating impact on the coastline, raising it by up to four metres in places in an area nearly 100 kilometres long.

There has been major mortality for abalone (paua) and some crayfish in this area and there are concerns about the loss of habitat and what that might mean for breeding.

“We need to understand the medium to long term impacts on these fisheries, and in the meantime we need to be careful and temporarily stop fishing until we have a clearer picture,” the minister pointed out.

Aware of the fact that the Chinese New Year is a significant earner for local cray fisherman, Guy stressed that if it is possible to determine the stock could support some extraction without adverse effects, this income would be of huge importance for the local community.

The research funding will be used to investigate the impacts of the earthquakes on the coastal environmental, assess the remaining fisheries resources and develop recovery measures, which will be a critical determination in the future of these fisheries.

“In normal circumstances we would recover the cost of this scientific work from the commercial industry, however given the exceptional circumstances we think it’s appropriate for the Government to pay for this work,” Minister Guy stated.

Most commercial fishing has already stopped around Kaikoura given damage to local processing facilities, boat ramps and transport links.

“I’m hopeful there will be opportunities for local fishermen to be involved in the independent scientific work. Some fishermen may also be eligible for the Government’s small business support package announced last week,” Guy commented.

The minister clarified that officials will continue to liaise with local commercial fishers, industry bodies, the Kaikoura Marine Guardians, local iwi and recreational fishers throughout this process, ensuring all stakeholders are kept fully informed.

In terms of commercial sale, crayfish is the most valuable stock in the area with an annual harvest value around NZD 23 million (USD 16 million) and paua is worth between NZD 1.2 and NZD 1.7 million (USD 840,000 and 1.1 million).

Scampi and fin-fish are excluded from the closures as they are not believed to be adversely affected.

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