New fisheries decisions bring closures and increases

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has decided for sustainability reasons to close part of the Southern Scallop Fishery (SCA7), which covers the top and northwest coast of the South Island, for the coming season.

The measures will prohibit commercial and recreational fishing for scallops in all of the Marlborough Sounds and part of Eastern Tasman Bay for the coming season, ending on 14 February 2017.

“This decision follows the latest scientific survey in 2015 which shows a continued and significant decline in the fishery, despite commercial catch reductions over the past three seasons,” says Mr Guy

“The strong message from the scientific evidence, as well as public submissions is the need to take the next step and close parts of the fishery to let it recover.

“These closures will rest the beds, allowing mature scallops to spawn uninterrupted and juvenile scallops to grow.

“To help get a better understanding of the fishery, the Ministry for Primary Industries worked with a stakeholder group with representatives from recreational and commercial sectors along with input from local iwi. I’d like to thank that group for their insights and efforts to support this fishery.

“It’s important to also note that there is currently no scientific consensus on the exact causes for the decline. Unknown environmental factors may also be having an impact.

“A large number of proposals to improve the fishery were also put forward during consultation. These will be worked through by the Ministry for Primary Industries in consultation with fishery stakeholders to develop a longer term solution for the fishery.”

The Minister has also decided to make an in-season increase to the amount of commercial catch for flatfish on the East Coast of the South Island.

“The scientific evidence shows there is a high level of abundance in this fishery, and there is opportunity to make an increase for the remainder of the fishing year while ensuring long term sustainability.

“This is a win-win for the fishery and the economy. The increase - from 1,617 tonnes to 1,867 tonnes – is similar to previous in-season increases."

More information on the closures and the increase can be found at www.mpi.govt.nz.