The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has begun public consultation on new catch limits for rock lobster and scallop stocks, and changes to commercial overfishing penalties for sea cucumber for 1 April 2014.
MPI is also consulting on proposals to introduce carpet shark, seal shark and hagfish to the Quota Management System (QMS) from 1 October 2014.
MPI invites feedback from tangata whenua and stakeholders on the sea cucumber proposals by Friday 14 February 2014, the rock lobster and scallop proposals by Friday, 21 February, and the QMS introductions proposals by Friday, 7 March.
The changes to rock lobster catch limits are proposed by the multi-stakeholder National Rock Lobster Management Group (NRLMG), which allows representatives from all fishing sectors and MPI to work together to foster sustainable use of rock lobster fisheries and develop innovative management strategies.
It is proposed that commercial catch limits in the Bay of Plenty (CRA 2) will decrease by 26 or 36 tonnes and in the Hawkes Bay/Wellington regions (CRA 4) by 33 tonnes. Commercial catch limits in the Gisborne area (CRA 3) are proposed to increase by 35 tonnes, and in Otago (CRA 7) by 22 tonnes and Westland/Taranaki region (CRA 9) by 14 or 21 tonnes.
For CRA 9, the NRLMG is also proposing to set a Total Allowable Catch (TAC) and non-commercial allowances for the first time. The proposed changes for rock lobster do not impact on existing recreational daily bag or size limits.
All of the rock lobster catch limit proposals are guided by the use of a tool called a management procedure (or decision rule).
The new proposals for scallops in the Nelson-Marlborough area (SCA 7) are to decrease the TAC by 697 tonnes and commercial catch limits by 701 tonnes. Also included in the proposal for the first time is an allowance to be set for other sources of fishing related mortality of four tonnes. The proposed changes do not impact on existing daily bag or size limits.
The review of the southern sea cucumber stock (SCC 3) is designed to address large over-catch of allocated quota of the stock.
James Stevenson-Wallace, MPI’s Director Fisheries Management, says the Ministry recognises that New Zealand’s fish stocks are a valuable resource and is committed to sustainable fisheries.
“The review of catch limits and other management controls for our fish stocks is an important annual process, and the proposals to introduce carpet and seal sharks into the QMS are consistent with the Ministry’s objectives under the National Plan of Action – Sharks. These reviews are all about increasing the productivity of the fisheries and ensuring their long-term sustainability.
“A range of management options are presented for each fish stock. I encourage stakeholders and tangata whenua to engage in the consultation process and put forward their views on these proposals.”
Copies of the consultation documents and information on the process for consultation, including deadlines for submissions, can be found on MPI’s website at http://www.fish.govt.nz/en-nz/Consultations/default.htm