The Ministry for Primary Industries is working closely with the Kaikōura community to support the rebuilding of fisheries that have been impacted after Monday’s earthquake.
The seabed was lifted several metres out of the water in the wider Kaikōura area after the quake, leaving some previously submerged pāua and rock lobster fisheries habitats exposed.
MPI’s Director of Fisheries Management, Dave Turner, says there has been a significant impact to the coastal environment which, in turn, will have a major and ongoing impact to the supporting habitat for pāua and crayfish.
"We are working hard to get an estimate of the scale of the impact and level of mortality of pāua, in particular, as a result," says Mr Turner.
"That includes working closely with the pāua and rock lobster industries and fishery stakeholders, such as the Kaikōura Guardians, to determine the best way to relocate stranded paua.
"We are also conducting a range of assessments to determine the level of impact this has had and liaising closely with the local community to ensure they are well supported."
Mr Turner says meetings will be held over the next few days with community representatives, relevant stakeholders and tangata whenua to decide the best options to protect remaining paua in the area.
He says that may include closing some areas to fishing in the short term.
"Another very important aspect of this is ensuring people do not eat contaminated pāua or rock lobster.
"There are significant food safety issues involved here. Reports indicate that most of the pāua have died and are rotting. Our message is: alive or dead, pāua found out of the water should not be eaten. This is absolutely critical. This applies to all shellfish found outside of the water to ensure we have the best chance of preventing foodborne illnesses.
"In addition, there are significant safety issues associated with the coastal area at this time.
"We would like to reiterate the need for people to be aware of the changeable nature of the environment. With continuing aftershocks, people need to be very careful in the marine environment given the risk of slips and unusual currents. People shouldn’t be putting themselves at risk to save marine life or to harvest food."