Fisheries New Zealand is seeking public feedback on recommendations from the Kaikōura Marine Guardians to reopen the Kaikōura coastline to pāua fishing.
Fisheries New Zealand's manager for inshore fisheries south, Allen Frazer, says shellfish and seaweed closures were introduced following the 2016 Kaikōura earthquakes, which caused significant seabed uplift along the coast, impacting the marine environment, including the popular pāua fishery.
"This is the first time we've closed a fishery as a result of an earthquake. and since then we've undertaken rigorous monitoring and research to track the recovery of pāua over time," says Allen Frazer.
The research has provided a good baseline to measure the recovery of the fishery and where to focus our attention in the future.
"The scientific research has shown an overall increase in adult and juvenile pāua abundance since the fishery was closed, particularly where there was less uplift. Most noticeably in the build-up of large pāua in areas close to shore."
The Kaikōura Marine Guardians, a statutory advisory committee representing interests from across the sectors, has recommended options to reopen the pāua fishery later this year. The options include new management measures for the recreational fishery such as lowering the daily limit per person, the introduction of vehicle and vessel limits, and a larger minimum legal size for pāua. These measures are designed to ensure the rebuild of the fishery is not compromised.
"Pāua in the closed areas are now more easily accessible from the shoreline. This means although pāua are doing well, any way forward will need to take a precautious and adaptive approach to preserve the health and recovery of this important fishery," says Allen Frazer.
Fisheries New Zealand is also seeking feedback on reopening the northern part of the closed area, extending beyond the Kaikōura Marine Area to Cape Campbell/Marfells Beach.
Consultation begins today (19 May) and will run until Monday, 5 July 2021.