The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) will be working with community volunteers and iwi to relocate a small amount of pāua at Goose Bay, Kaikōura.
MPI fisheries scientists and Deputy Director-General Ben Dalton travelled to the area this week to inspect the pāua beds and discuss how best to look after the resource.
"The earthquake has had a dramatic effect on the seabed, which has had a devastating effect on local pāua population", Dalton says.
"Nowhere in the world has anyone experienced or been able to research the immediate impacts on shellfish survival in the intertidal and sub-tidal zones following a major earthquake.
"We’re really in new territory here, which is why Minister Guy has announced a temporary closure of the fishery in order to help it stabilise. We’ve been working with the community and the pāua rescue group to figure out how best to respond to a situation which is changing day to day.
"The work done to date by the volunteers has just been a fantastic effort. We applaud them for that.
"A large number of pāua that are above the new high tide mark have died. However, fisheries scientists working at the scene with local iwi and volunteers we have been able to identify some pāua in a specific location which remain at risk. We intend to support a careful, science-based relocation effort for these paua. We will also work with the locals to identify other areas where relocation may be best option.
"On Monday, Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy announced temporary fishery closures around Kaikōura so this relocation work will be carried out under special permit issued under the Fisheries Act. This means relocation can only occur in the area specified and under the conditions of that Special Permit.
"Outside of this area we reiterate our message that pāua above the high tide mark resulting from the earthquake have already died. The remaining paua in the intertidal area are likely at more risk from relocation than the impact of earthquake. If you are not part of a supervised programme please do not attempt to relocate pāua.
"A $2 million science package has been announced to help us better understand the ongoing impacts to the fishery.
"Fisheries management is always about acting on the best information possible, and we’re grateful that we’ve been able to combine fisheries science with local knowledge to arrive at the best solution for the fishery. This has been a true collaboration between MPI, the local iwi, the volunteers and the commercial Pāua industry".