Scallop closures among sustainability measures for fisheries

Depleted scallop fisheries in Northland and most of the Coromandel are to be closed to allow them to recover.

Oceans and Fisheries Minister David Parker announced the closure as part of the twice-yearly review of a selection of fish stocks to support their sustainability.

“Since taking responsibility for the oceans and fisheries portfolio I have been made aware of the parlous state of the scallop fishery. The fishery in the Nelson-Marlborough region has been closed for years. Reseeding efforts have been unsuccessful.

“Scientific surveys of scallop numbers in the Northland, Hauraki Gulf and Coromandel fisheries have confirmed iwi and community concerns that scallop beds in the region are in bad shape. I share their concerns. The results of the 2021 biomass survey are alarming,” David Parker said.

Many fishers in these areas have reported it is becoming harder to find scallops.

“Removing fishing pressure is an important and immediate measure that can contribute to their ongoing sustainability. It is the responsible action to take.

“A number of factors are contributing to the continued serious decline in scallop numbers including sedimentation, dredging and the use of GPS technology to locate and exploit scallop beds.

“Strong measures are needed to restore these important shared fisheries. My decisions, which come into effect on 1 April, will fully close recreational and commercial scallop fishing in the Northland fishery, and the Hauraki Gulf and Coromandel fishery, apart from two defined areas around Hauturu/Little Barrier Island and near the Colville Channel that will provide for a small level of utilisation.”

David Parker said these fisheries have been a great source of food, recreation and economic opportunity.

“In order for that to continue the scallop beds need time to recover. I’ve instructed my officials to continue to track the progress of these fisheries with a view to future decision-making.”

The closures follow a 50 per cent cut to the total allowable commercial catch (TACC) in the Coromandel scallop fishery in 2016. The TACC for the Northland scallop fishery was reduced by 75 per cent in 2020.

In the six-monthly reviews, stocks are prioritised for review focussing on the species that are important to iwi, commercial and recreational fishers, and local communities.

“Where the information suggests a fish stock can sustainably support more harvesting, catch limits can be increased so everyone can benefit from the fisheries. On the other hand, if sustainability is at risk catch limits are reduced to help the stock recover,” David Parker said.

Seven other fish stocks in this review will have catch limits and settings updated.

They include rock lobster, redbait, and southern blue whiting.

“In addition, hāpuku and bass stocks off the west coast and top of the South Island and Taranaki will have catch limits and allowances set for the first time, and I have agreed to change recreational controls for these stocks,” David Parker said.

The amount paid for fish caught commercially above catch entitlement, known as deemed values, will be adjusted for three of the stocks to reflect the market rate and incentivise more accurate reporting.

Summary of changes:

  • Scallops, Northland (SCA1) – full closure.
  • Scallops, Coromandel (SCA CS) – Partial closure – all areas of SCA CS will be closed apart from two defined areas around Hauturu/Little Barrier Island and near the Colville Channel that will provide for a small level of utilisation.
  • Rock lobster, Northland (CRA 1) – decrease total allowable catch
  • Rock lobster, Otago and Southland (CRA 7, and 8) – increase total allowable catch
  • Hāpuku and bass, West Coast and top of the South Island, and Taranaki (HPB 7 & 8) – set total allowable catch and allowances, decrease total allowable commercial catch
  • Redbait, West Coast South Island and west coast North Island (RBT 7) – decrease total allowable catch
  • Southern blue whiting, Bounty platform (SBW 6B) – decrease total allowable catch

Further information is available at: https://www.mpi.govt.nz/consultations/review-of-sustainability-measures-2022-april-round/