UPDATE - 12 July 2016
Following consultation, the Minister for Primary Industries has made a decision to close parts of the Southern Scallop Fishery (SCA7) for the coming season. The area closed is the Marlborough Sounds and eastern part of Tasman Bay.
The latest assessment of the fishery, shows the biomass is at a low point, with relatively few dense beds of scallops remaining. The closures aim to rest the beds, allowing mature scallops to spawn uninterrupted and juvenile scallops to grow and help prevent a further decline of this important fishery, while longer-term management options are developed.
Your views sought
The Ministry for Primary Industries is seeking public feedback on new proposals to support the long-term sustainability of the Southern scallop fishery which covers the top, and northwest coast, of the South Island.
The proposals include temporary closures of parts of the fishery for the upcoming scallop season, from 15 July to 14 February.
The latest survey in 2015 shows there has been a continued and significant decline in the fishery, despite reductions in catch limits in 2013/14, 2014/15, and 2015/16 seasons. This suggests a change in approach is needed.
These options for closures will have various impacts on different sectors. We’re looking for public feedback to better understand these impacts, so that we can strike the right balance for the fishery.
MPI has consulted with representatives from the recreational, commercial and customary sectors as part of the process to develop these proposals.
Making your submission
Email your feedback on the consultation document by 5pm, 1 July 2016 to FMSubmissions@mpi.govt.nz
Make sure you include in your submission:
- the title of the consultation document in the subject line of your email
- your name and title (if applicable)
- your organisation’s name (if applicable)
- your address
While we prefer email, you can send your submission by post to:
Ministry for Primary Industries
PO Box 2526
Questions and Answers
Why are changes to management of the scallop fishery for this season being considered?
A survey carried out in November 2015 shows the biomass of scallops in the SCA7 fishery is at its lowest recorded level, despite measures to rebuild the fishery implemented in the 2013/14, 2014/15 and 2015/16 seasons. These included reducing the total allowable catch, significantly reduced commercial catch limits for Marlborough Sounds, and continued reseeding of parts of the fishery by commercial fishers.
Given this, action is needed to provide more certainty that a rebuild of this important fishery will occur.
Why has the fishery declined?
There is currently no scientific consensus about the cause of this decline, and it’s possible that environmental factors are also having an impact.
MPI has been actively managing the fishery through reductions to catch limits over the past three years. These proposals include closures to parts of SCA7 to help the fishery recover.
Why are closures of some of the scallop beds being considered?
MPI considers that resting some of the beds this season would give the beds an opportunity to rest and help rebuild the fishery. Closures would help safeguard mature and juvenile scallops from direct fishing mortality or incidental fishing mortality.
Spatial closures are an effective management tool that have been used previously in SCA7 and in other scallop fisheries to help rebuild the abundance of scallops.
Will I still be able to catch scallops this season?
A range of options are being consulted on. Some of the closure options would significantly reduce the commercial and recreational catch in the short term, which may have an impact on the availability of scallops from this fishery. However, MPI considers this would be balanced by improved fishery productivity in the future.
How long would the closures last?
At this stage, and subject to consultation, the closures would be in place only for the coming season (until 15 February 2017). During this time longer-term management options will be worked through by a multi-sector working group that has been established for the fishery by the Ministry for Primary Industries and all interested parties.
Submissions are public information
Any submission you make becomes public information. Anyone can ask for copies of all submissions under the Official Information Act 1982 (OIA). The OIA says we must make the information available, unless we have a good reason for withholding it. You can find those grounds in sections 6 and 9 of the OIA. Tell us if you think there are grounds to withhold specific information in your submission. Reasons might include, it's commercially sensitive or it's personal information. However, any decision MPI makes to withhold information can be reviewed by the Ombudsman, who may require the information be released.