Early catch estimates show change to autumn for Kaikōura recreational pāua season right move

Early estimates show the recreational take from the recently closed Kaikōura pāua season was about a quarter of last year’s catch.

The two-month season ended on 15 June and was held in autumn rather than summer. The first season since the 2016 earthquakes was held from December 2021 to February 2022.

A second independent recreational pāua survey was undertaken during the season and those results are being discussed with local iwi, the Kaikōura Marine Guardians, and other key community groups and stakeholders.

Fisheries New Zealand Regional Manager Fisheries Compliance, Howard Reid says the timing of the season made a difference.

“The sea was cooler, and the weather unsettled from time to time, but it didn’t stop people from being able to catch a feed of pāua along the coast. We’re still analysing the results of the survey but at this stage about 11 tonnes of recreational pāua catch was taken during the 2-month season this year. This is significantly less than the 42 tonnes taken during the first season which lasted for three months.

It suggests that moving the season away from the peak summer holiday period, reducing the length, along with introducing new lower daily limits, have been really effective at reducing the take and ensuring sustainability for future seasons.”

Fishery Officers backed up by volunteer Honorary Fishery Officers patrolled the fishery every day, checking on catches and educating people on the rules and tools to use to harvest pāua. They found compliance with the recreational pāua fishing rules was high.

“More than 95 percent of fishers followed rules, which is encouraging. We had a strong focus on ensuring that pāua gatherers were not taking a daily catch for people who were not fishing, such as for friends on the beach. A lot of the pāua caught was also well above the 125 mm minimum length which is really encouraging for future seasons.

There were also new rules for the two-month season including lower bag and size limits for OaroHaumuri Taiapure. Overall, it was really pleasing to see the majority of people get behind the changes and stick to the rules,” says Howard Reid.

Meanwhile the Matariki long holiday weekend is approaching on 14 July and Fisheries New Zealand reminds all recreational fishers that the pāua fishery is closed and will remain closed until a new season is announced for 2024.

Fisheries New Zealand encourages people to report any suspected illegal activity through the Ministry for Primary Industries’ 0800 4 POACHER line (0800 47 62 24).

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