Kaikōura’s 3-month pāua season ends

Fishery officers checking catch on the Kaikoura coast (Dec 22)

From midnight on Monday 28 February the pāua fishery in Kaikōura closed again.

The limited 3-month season, which started on 1 December, was welcomed by locals and visitors to the region enjoying the summer season along the Kaikōura coast.

The fishery was closed following the devastating Kaikōura earthquakes in November 2016, and this was the first time in nearly 5 years that people could gather this iconic Kaikōura kaimoana.

Ministry for Primary Industries’ Regional Compliance Manager, Howard Reid says most people gathering pāua over the season followed the rules and were very respectful of the fishery.

“Over 90 percent people our officers saw were fishing within the limits and using the appropriate tools and methods to gather pāua. Unfortunately, there were a few that didn’t follow the rules resulting in around 97 offences with just over half of those receiving infringements.

At the more serious end of the scale, very early one morning a diver was caught with 249 pāua, nearly 50 times the daily limit. The pāua were found hidden in suitcases and one hundred and eleven (111) of these shellfish were undersize. While this is still under investigation the diver faces prosecution.

Fisheries New Zealand’s Southern Inshore Manager, Allen Frazer says a shared vision from many people from across MPI and Fisheries New Zealand, along with iwi, stakeholders, and the community, led to the temporary reopening of the fishery.

“The earthquake, which caused uplift damaging marine life and habitat along the coast, was a bit like pushing the reset button and starting from scratch to understand the impacts.

Fisheries New Zealand and the science community put significant work into research and monitoring. This included estimating the abundance of the pāua population, monitoring recruitment into the fishery, and keeping track of the size of pāua to estimate life-stages. This important information showed pāua in the area to be improving.

In the commercial pāua fishery, around 20 percent of areas that were previously fished were significantly impacted by the earthquake, and the fishery was split into two distinct areas. Recognising this, and going through the usual statutory processes, the PAU 3 commercial fishery was subdivided into a Kaikoura (PAU 3A) and Canterbury (PAU 3B) fishery, supported by an approved PAU 3

Fisheries Plan to provide finer-scale management for the commercial fishery.

Taking a cautious approach, new catch limits and allowances for both commercial and recreational fishing were set.

The season may have come to an end but there’s plenty more mahi underway.

“An intensive survey was carried out over the open season to provide important information about fisher’s catch and effort.

This information as well as in-water surveys of the paua stocks will help determine what the future of the fishery might look like, including what measures can be set to keep the pāua healthy and thriving,” says Allen Frazer.

Fisheries New Zealand will continue to monitor Kaikōura’s pāua stocks over the coming months and work with iwi, the community, and commercial and recreational fishers on future management of the fishery. Any proposals to reopen the fishery will go through the usual statutory processes, including public consultation.

The closure extends from Marfells beach, around Cape Campbell and south to the Conway River.

To keep up to date with the fishing rules for your area download the NZ Fishing Rules app from where you usually get your apps or visit mpi.govt.nz/rules

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