Fisheries New Zealand has today announced changes to catch limits for 14 fish stocks and the introduction of a full year-round closure to harvesting shellfish at Cockle Bay/Tuwakamana on Auckland's east coast.
Director of fisheries management, Emma Taylor, says the changes are part of a regular review to ensure the ongoing sustainability of New Zealand's fish resources.
"Our oceans and fisheries are important to all New Zealanders – they provide food for our whānau and jobs in our communities. By reviewing catch limits and other management measures, we help ensure their long-term sustainability for all New Zealanders to enjoy.
"Of the 14 stocks reviewed, catch limits will increase for 5 stocks, 4 will decrease, and 5 remain unchanged. A full year-round closure to the take of shellfish in Cockle Bay/Tuwakamana in the Hauraki Gulf will also be introduced.
The Cockle Bay closure will come into effect on 1 May 2021, which is when the beach would have previously opened under the current seasonal closure that is in place.
The following will change from 1 April 2021:
- Giant spider crab in the Chatham Rise, South East Coast, and Southland/Southern offshore islands (GSC 3, 5, & 6A) – increases to catch limits reflecting the increased abundance of stock.
- Red rock lobster in Gisborne (CRA 3) and Wellington/Hawke's Bay (CRA 4) – catch limits will decrease to ensure the stocks remain sustainable.
- Red rock lobster in Northland (CRA 1) and Canterbury/Marlborough (CRA 5) – no change to limits as stocks are currently at sustainable levels. These will continue to be closely monitored.
- Packhorse rock lobster nation-wide (PHC 1) – a moderate catch increase. Information shows this stock is doing well and more can be sustainability harvested.
Catch limits to the following will come into effect on 1 October 2021:
- Blue cod in the Chatham Islands (BCO 4) – a Total Allowable Catch (TAC) has been set for the first time. The commercial catch limit will remain unchanged.
- Elephantfish in the West Coast and top of the South Island (ELE 7) – no change to catch limits.
- Flatfish in the East Cape, Hawke's Bay, Wellington, and Taranaki (FLA 2) – catch limits will be decreased due to sustainability concerns if fully fished.
- Dark ghost shark in the East Coast of Northland, Auckland, and the Bay of Plenty (GSH 1) – a TAC has been set for the first time. Available information suggests there is an opportunity for increased utilisation. As such, a small increase to the Total Allowable Commercial Catch (TACC) has also been made.
- Giant stargazer (STA 1) in Waikato, Auckland, Northland, and Bay of Plenty – a TAC has been set for the first time. The commercial catch limit will remain unchanged.
- Yellow-eyed mullet in Waikato, the West Coast of Auckland and Northland (YEM 9) – a decrease to the catch limits to ensure sustainable management and respond to environmental impacts on the fishery.
"New science suggests packhorse rock lobster populations have increased in recent years, which means more can be sustainably harvested. A total allowable catch limit will be set for the first time and a moderate increase made to the commercial catch limit.
"The changes to catch limits for flatfish and yellow-eyed mullet take into consideration factors on the marine ecosystem that may affect productivity, such as habitat degradation or pollution.
"We review stocks in April and October every year, using the best scientific information available, to determine if changes are required to management settings to ensure our fisheries remain sustainable. If the science tells us more fish can be sustainably caught, then we increase the catch limits. However, if this information shows the opposite, we look to reduce the catch limits to help rebuild stocks.
"This information, along with feedback received from tangata whenua and public consultation, allows Fisheries New Zealand to provide the Minister for Oceans and Fisheries with advice on changing catch limits," says Emma Taylor.