The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is increasing surveillance around the Kaikōura coastline after reports that people are continuing to take pāua that’s been exposed as the result of Monday’s earthquake.
MPI’s Manager of Compliance Operations, Gary Orr, says it’s critical surviving shellfish and rock lobster stocks in the new intertidal zone that’s been created as a result of the quake are protected.
"That’s where the pāua brood stocks live and we need to do everything we can to look after them as they are the key to the future of this fishery," says Mr Orr.
"The pāua fishery is traditionally 'at-risk' and Monday’s earthquake has now put it in a perilous position.
"We cannot afford any further pressure on this fishery. That means we’ll be increasing patrols in the area for the foreseeable future.
"We’re ramping up our presence in the affected area and fishery officers and honorary fishery officers will be present to ensure people are complying with catch limits and legal size requirements.
"There will be no excuses for non-compliance. People need to know and respect the rules and understand they will be rigidly enforced.
"If they don’t they’ll face stiff penalties. Fines range from $250-$20,000 and rule-breakers can face prosecution and the forfeiture of property used in any offending.
"This is an extremely serious situation. We’re urging locals who witness any offending to urgently contact MPI’s 0800 line to report it. That’s 0800 47 62 24."
People also need to be aware that taking dead or dying seafood will pose a serious risk to health.
Mr Orr says consideration is still being given to a temporary closure of the fishery until the full impact of the earthquake is understood.