Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Scallops fishery slammed shut

The Coromandel scallop fishery will be shut down after a new camera-based survey found a serious decline in scallop numbers.

“I am invoking emergency measures to close the fishery,” Oceans and Fisheries Minister, David Parker said today.

“While the results are yet to be published, it is clear these scallop beds have declined considerably, and immediate action is required to provide the best chance of recovery,” he said.

“This kind of measure is rarely used, and I do not invoke it lightly as it bypasses public consultation. I consider that in this case, given the seriousness of the situation, it is necessary to protect these scallop beds and ensure the recovery of the wider fishery.”

Minister Parker said the closure of the fishery’s remaining two areas will protect scallops and their habitats from fishing while officials undertake a full review of the Coromandel fishery (known as SCA CS).

“I have put an emergency measure in place now, because there can be more fishing in the summer season, which may place further pressure on the beds,” he said.

“While the effects from fishing will have played a part, it is very likely there are other factors driving the decline including sedimentation from land activities, water quality, and environmental conditions likely linked to climate change.”

The new closure adds to existing closures the Government put in place in March this year, based on results of a 2021 survey.

“At that time, I shared concerns raised by fishers and the community about the state of the region’s scallops. The best available information, and advice from Fisheries New Zealand, was that the fishery could sustain some fishing within two discrete areas.”

“I instructed officials to make sure the open areas were monitored. Camera-based surveys were carried out in June to August, as a baseline for future monitoring. Those results paint a very dire picture,” the Minister said.

The closure takes effect from Friday and will prohibit all scallop fishing in the two defined areas at Little Barrier/Te Hauturu-o-Toi and Colville channel.

It will remain in place for three months and includes commercial, recreational, and customary fishing.

The Coromandel scallop fishery is being fully reviewed, with a longer term closure proposed, as part of Fisheries New Zealand’s regular sustainability reviews for the 1 April fishing year, Minister Parker confirmed.

Consultation on proposals will begin from Thursday.

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