• John Luxton
Fisheries and Aquaculture

The Minister of Fisheries, Hon John Luxton, today announced decisions regarding rock lobster Total Allowable Catches (TAC) and management controls for the 1997-98 rock lobster fishing year commencing on 1 April 1997. The TAC is the level of total removal from the fishery including non - commercial catch and the Total Allowable Commercial catch (TACC).

The Minister has announced increases in the Total Allowable Commercial Catch (TACC) for the rock lobster fisheries in the Bay of Plenty (CRA2) and Gisborne (CRA3), along with a reduction to the commercial catch for the Chatham Islands rock lobster fishery (CRA6). Generally positive indications from the other fisheries mean no other reductions to TACCs were considered.

1. Bay of Plenty (CRA2)
The Total Allowable Commercial Catch (TACC) has been increased by 10% (from 214.6 tonnes to 236.1 tonnes) for the CRA2 fishery.

In making his decision on this stock the Mr Luxton said that, scientific assessment of information from the fishery indicates that the CRA2 stock is in a healthy position and may in fact be above optimal levels. Having regard to this information, and acknowledging the significant work industry groups have undertaken in this area to improve our knowledge of the resource, I am happy to provide an increase to the commercial catch limit for this fishery. I note that the growth of this fishery in recent years has been of benefit to non-commercial fishers.

2. Gisborne (CRA3)
The TACC for the CRA3 fishery has been increased by 20 tonnes from 204.67 tonnes to 224 tonnes.

Mr Luxton indicated that he was happy with the continued rebuild of this stock and the ongoing co-operation between the commercial, recreational and Maori groups with an interest in the fishery.

The Minister said, I regard the CRA3 fishery as an example of a fishery were co-operation amongst users of the resource, along with catch reductions, has facilitated a significant improvement in the resource. Whilst I am concerned at information which indicates an increase in illegal removals in the area, I am heartened by work being undertaken by local groups to facilitate action by the Ministrys compliance group to address this situation.

3. Chatham Islands (CRA6)
The TACC for the Chatham Islands fishery has been reduced from 530 tonnes to 400 tonnes.

The Minister of Fisheries today said, I have concerns about the ongoing decline in this fishery evident from a long term reduction in catch rates. However, I am also well aware of the potential socio-economic impact of a substantial TACC reduction on the Chatham Islands. For this reason, I have decided to implement a reduction that will move the TACC closer to a level likely to be sustainable in the long term. I believe it is a necessary step toward preventing further decline in this resource which is so important to the Islands.

During the next few months I have asked the Ministry to consult further with a view to implementing an additional closed season in the fishery during September and October.

I intend to examine the assessment of this fishery again at the end of this fishing year to determine what further management action may be necessary to ensure the long term sustainability of the fishery, the Minister said.