Research will get underway next week to determine the impact of the Kaikōura earthquake on the local rock lobster (crayfish) stock.
Last week Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy closed the rock lobster fishery for one month.
MPI Director of Fisheries Management Dave Turner says that during the period the rock lobster fishery is closed, MPI will be working with NIWA, the CRA 5 Industry Association and the local community and iwi on a monitoring programme to assess what impact the earthquakes have had on the health of the fishery.
"The rock lobster fishery is the most valuable fishery in the Kaikōura region – culturally, as well as economically. The rock lobster fishery in the wider North Canterbury to Marlborough regions is worth $24m in export earnings.
"It's vital we get a good understanding of how it has been affected by the earthquake, so that effective management measures can be put in place once the initial one month closure ends.
"This research programme is considered to be the best indicator for the fishery at the present time, and the results will help determine if other actions need to be taken by MPI or a further closure of the rock lobster fishery is required," he says.
Numbers of rock lobster and their condition and abundance will be assessed using up to 6 survey vessels selected from the commercial fleet. Technicians from NIWA will carry out the sampling and all rock lobsters caught will be released back into the sea immediately after sampling.
Preparation for the survey will begin on Sunday with lobster pots being placed in the water by commercial vessels. This is legitimate activity but anyone concerned about poaching should call 0800 4 POACHER to report the activity.