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Proposal to reopen the Kaikōura Marine Area to pāua fishing


31 August 2022 – Results of the new recreational Kaikōura pāua survey 

The results of the new recreational Kaikōura pāua survey are now available.

They show:

  • Pāua were a popular catch over the 3-month season with large numbers of harvesters active in the water.
  • For the area north of Kaikoura (PAU 7) an estimated total of 3 tonnes of pāua was taken by recreational fishers.
  • For the Kaikōura area (PAU 3A) an estimated total of 42 tonnes was taken. This differs from the preliminary results and have been adjusted upwards reflecting the large size of pāua harvested in the area.

These results are forming the basis for discussions with tangata whenua, the Kaikōura Marine Guardians, and stakeholders on options for a future season. Public consultation will occur before any decisions are made.

Harvest estimates from landbased amateur fishers – Kaikōura Marine Area to Marfells Beach [PDF, 3.3 MB]

Results of the new recreational Kaikōura pāua survey [PDF, 7.9 MB]

28 February 2022 – Kaikōura Pāua Fishery is Now Closed

The Kaikōura coastline in Marfells beach, around Cape Campbell, and south to the Conway River in the south is now closed to all commercial and recreational pāua fishing (from midnight 28 February).

Pāua fishing within this area was allowed for a limited 3-month season from 1 December 2021 to 28 February 2022. This followed an almost 5-year closure to rebuild the fishery after the devastating Kaikōura earthquakes in 2016 . Fisheries New Zealand will shortly begin work with the Kaikōura Marine Guardians, iwi, and key stakeholders to consider what the future of the fishery will look like. Any decision to reopen the fishery will go through the usual statutory process including public consultation.

Media release: Kaikōura pāua season comes to a close

19 November 2021 – Minister decides to reopen Kaikōura pāua fishery

Following this consultation, the Minister for Oceans and Fisheries has decided the Kaikōura pāua fishery will reopen for an initial 3-month period, beginning from 1 December 2021 and ending 28 February 2022. The minister has also decided to reopen the Kaikōura kina fishery from 1 December 2021.  Full details and the reasoning for the reopening, are in the minister's decision letter, the questions and answers document, and the media release.

Minister's decision letter on reopening the Kaikōura pāua fishery [PDF, 83 KB]

Question and answers about the reopening [PDF, 291 KB]

Kaikōura pāua fishery to reopen – Government media release

Background to this consultation

The Kaikōura Marine Guardians (the Guardians) made recommendations to reopen Te Whata Kai o Rakihouia i Te Tai o Marokura (Kaikōura Marine Area) to pāua fishing in late 2021. 

The Kaikōura Marine Area extends between the Clarence River in the north and the Conway River in the south, and includes the Kaikōura Peninsula. 

We sought your feedback on:

  • reopening the Kaikōura Marine Area to pāua fishing
  • extending the reopening further north to Cape Campbell/Marfells Beach.

What was proposed

The Guardians recommended the following management measures for the recreational pāua fishery within the Kaikōura Marine Area. It was proposed that if approved, these same management measures would apply to the extended area.

  • Reopen the pāua fishery annually from 1 December to 1 March (beginning 1 December 2021).
  • A lower daily bag limit of 3 pāua per person, with an accumulation limit of 6 pāua per person. Prior to closure, a daily limit of 5 pāua per person and an accumulation limit of 10 pāua per person applied.
  • A new vehicle and vessel limit of 4 daily limits (which means 12 pāua per vehicle or vessel) or 1 pāua per person, whichever is greatest.
  • A larger minimum legal-size limit of 130mm in shell length for black-foot pāua. Prior to closure, minimum legal-size limit was 125mm in shell length.

The Guardians also recommended:

  • a specific measuring and harvest tool for the Kaikōura recreational pāua fishery
  • reporting of recreational pāua catch using a smartphone app.

Both would be voluntary, pending work to determine their feasibility.

The proposal did not include recommendations for changes within the 5 customary management areas.

Consultation documents

Proposal to reopen the Kaikōura Marine Area to pāua fishing – Discussion document [PDF, 1.7 MB]

Te Whata Kai O Rakihouia I Te Tai O Marokura — Kaikōura Marine Area & Section 11 Closed Area – Map [PDF, 369 KB]

Related information

The Kaikōura Marine Guardians’ proposal and recommendations letter [PDF, 262 KB]

New Zealand Fisheries Assessment Report – Pāua abundance trends and population monitoring in areas affected by the November 2016 Kaikōura earthquakes [PDF, 2 MB]

Pāua population monitoring following the November 2016 Kaikoura earthquakes [PDF, 1.5 MB]

Rocky reef impacts of the 2016 Kaikōura earthquake: extended monitoring of nearshore habitats and communities to 3.5 years [PDF, 5 MB]

Recovery of juvenile pāua along the Kaikōura coastline [PDF, 12 MB]

Subtidal changes and recovery along the Kaikōura coastline [PDF, 4.7 MB]

Find out more about the Kaikōura research programme [PDF, 4.2 MB]

Media release: Kaikōura research presentations

PAU3 fisheries plan [PDF, 352 KB]

PAU7 fisheries plan [PDF, 684 KB]

Summary of PAU3 commercial management measures [PDF, 188 KB]

Summary of PAU7 commercial management measures [PDF, 411 KB] 

History of the Kaikōura pāua fishery closure

Since the 2016 Kaikōura earthquakes, the coastline between Cape Campbell/Marfells Beach and the Conway River has been closed to fishing. This includes most shellfish and seaweed species. 

This closure was put in place to protect the surviving pāua populations and associated habitat, as well as other shellfish and seaweed resources along the earthquake-affected coastline.

Research shows there are encouraging signs of pāua recovery since the closure, with an increase in biomass in the area. Areas with lower levels of uplift have more pāua than areas with higher uplift.  

Many pāua are in shallow, open habitats and are easily reached from shore. This means we need to be careful to make sure this important fishery can fully recover.

The Guardians provides the Government with advice regarding the Kaikōura Marine Area on any biosecurity, conservation, or fisheries related matters. This proposal is made within the context of that role.

Submissions are public information

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