The public is being asked for its views on a proposed extension to the current ban on collecting shellfish and seaweed along the Kaikōura and Cape Campbell coastlines.
A temporary emergency ban on the harvesting of shellfish – excluding rock lobster and scampi – and seaweed along the earthquake-affected east coast of the South Island, was announced by Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy, last November.
The Government also announced a $2 million package to investigate the impact of the earthquake on these fisheries.
Ministry for Primary Industries Director of Fisheries Management, Dave Turner, says scientific research on the Kaikōura coast reveals the rock lobster fishery is faring well, however, there are worrying signs for other shellfish, including kina, and seaweed species.
"Shellfish and seaweed stocks within the Kaikōura and Cape Campbell earthquake-affected area have been significantly impacted and there remains a high degree of uncertainty around the short and long-term implications of the quake.
"Most of the important pāua fishing grounds were affected by the earthquake and subsequent aftershocks, and the short-term mortality of pāua and other shellfish and seaweed was high in the affected areas. Long-term mortalities cannot yet be estimated.
"Consequently, MPI is taking a precautionary approach and is proposing to extend the current ban for a further 9 months while additional work is done to ensure that any future fishing in the area is sustainable.
"It is important that we consider the public's views on the proposal and we're inviting written submissions from people who have an interest in the stocks concerned or in the effects of fishing in the area.
"MPI will continue to conduct specific scientific research in the area which, coupled with community, stakeholder consultation and tangata whenua input and participation, will inform any final decision the Minister will make around whether the fishery is re-opened or remains closed until further notice".