Results of a new survey show the popularity of pāua amongst the recreational fishers at Kaikōura’s coastline over the summer.
The Kaikōura coastline opened to pāua fishing for a limited season from 1 December to 28 February, after being closed for nearly 5 years following the 2016 earthquakes that caused significant uplift and loss of marine life, says director of fisheries management, Emma Taylor.
"This fishery is precious, and we’ve worked closely with the community to take a long-term view of its management. The opening over the summer was always intended to be temporary to give us an indication of how the fishery would respond to fishing pressure. We will use this information to help us make future decisions about the fishery.
"Science indicated the closure was successful in rebuilding the fishery, especially in shallow wading depths where large pāua are particularly abundant. This accessible stock and really good summer weather brought out lots of recreational fishers, both local and visiting fishers who harvested around 35 tonnes of the popular shellfish."
The survey of more than 1,700 recreational fishers over the season estimates that fishers took around 2.8 tonnes of pāua from the northern part of the fishery (PAU 7), around 35 tonnes from the southern part of the fishery (PAU 3A).
"The rebuild provided plenty of large pāua in wading depths, making it easy for people to gather a feed of the popular kaimoana. In addition, the excellent weather over the summer meant lots of people were out enjoying the fishery."
The survey results show that many people gathered pāua from the shore and in more accessible areas, such as those near or around carparks. The results also indicate that less recreational pāua fishing took place outside of these areas.
"On top of being able to find pāua close to the shore, the survey showed that most pāua taken were larger than 130mm – well above the minimum size limit of 125mm."
There was an increased presence of MPI Fishery Officers patrolling the area over the open season. Of the people they spoke with, more than 90% were following the rules. Unfortunately, there were some that didn’t follow the rules resulting in around 120 offences, with most of those people receiving either a warning or infringement, and 2 facing prosecution.
"The preliminary survey results are being peer-reviewed through a working group process and once confirmed the information will be used to help inform management settings, including what a future pāua season might look like."
A summary of the survey results will be made available on MPI’s website once the peer review process is complete.
"In-water surveys to estimate pāua abundance were undertaken before the open season and are being done again now that the season has closed. Results from these surveys will be used to compare how pāua have responded to fishing and will also contribute to determining the appropriate management settings for the fishery."
Any future decisions for the fishery will go through the usual processes including public consultation.