Closure of Kaikōura fisheries extended
The current emergency closure of some fisheries along the coast of Kaikōura is being extended to help the marine environment affected by the 2016 earthquakes to recover.
An emergency closure, in consultation with the local Kaikōura community, was imposed after the 2016 quakes and that applied to all shellfish and seaweed - excluding rock lobster (crayfish) and scampi.
MPI Acting Director Fisheries Management, Steve Halley, says the earthquakes had a devastating effect on the coastline between Marfell's Beach and the Conway River, raising the seabed by several metres in some areas.
"For the immediate future, we need to give the coastal environment time and space to heal," Mr Halley says.
"MPI, in partnership with Te Korowai o Te Tai o Marokura (Kaikōura Coastal Marine Guardians) and other local community interests, is actively working to help our fisheries and marine habitats recover so that, once again, these resources can contribute to the regions social, economic and cultural well-being.
"The extended closure comes into effect on November 20. It applies to the existing closed area from Marfell's Beach to the Conway River and applies to both recreational and commercial fishers."
Steve Halley says that losing fishing grounds in the area has put more pressure on neighbouring areas around Marlborough and Canterbury.
"We need people to fish responsibly in these areas. People should take only what they need and fish for a feed, not to fill the freezer.
"We also want people to try to reduce the amount of small fish they catch. It is these small fish that are the future of the fishery and will help rebuild surrounding populations. If they are catching small fish we suggest they try a different method, use bigger hooks or move to a different location. People should also take special care when returning any small fish they catch to the water. These fish should be returned immediately with a minimum of harm."
Mr Halley says that during the closure, more scientific studies to measure the impact of the quakes will be undertaken.
"We will continue to monitor the progress and shape of the fisheries' recovery and use this information to decide when the fisheries are at a point that they can be re-opened.
"Our management decisions to protect the long term sustainability of these fisheries are made in consultation with the public and based on the best available fisheries science.
"We want to thank everyone for their support and contribution so far. We still have a long way to go and community involvement is key to protecting the sustainability of the affected fisheries."
Steve Halley says fisheries officers will remain active on the Kaikōura coast and in surrounding areas, inspecting and educating fishers.
"Our officers are always happy to talk to people interested in knowing more about the rules and what fishers can do to minimise their impact on the recovery of the marine environment. It's a great opportunity for people to gain a personalised understanding of what we're doing and why."
The new closure will remain in place until such time as ongoing monitoring of the area suggests abundance has rebuilt to the point where sustainable harvesting can occur.