P¯aua to stay off the menu in Kaikoura
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Kaimoana lovers in Kaiko¯ ura and south Marlborough may have to go without fresh pa¯ ua on the barbie this summer as the fishery remains closed. Around this time last year there was an influx of people heading to the coast for pa¯ ua as the fishery opened for a threemonth trial season, for the first time since the 2016 earthquakes damaged the population. However, this year the pa¯ ua fishery will remain closed over summer, and the Ministry for Primary Industries wants to remind people that harvesting pa¯ ua is currently illegal. Regional fisheries compliance manager Howard Reid said last summer’s trial season was so popular that MPI had decided to wait until after the upcoming summer holidays to reopen the fishery. A consultation was underway to determine the shape of the next season. Reid said last summer was ‘‘very, very busy’’ for the fisheries teams patrolling the coast, as there was a lot of excitement around the pa¯ ua fishery reopening. An estimated 42 tonnes of pa¯ ua was taken by recreational divers over the three-month period, according to survey results released in August, which was more than the customary and commercial take combined, leading to calls for the recreational take to be reported as the rest of the fishery was. ‘‘It’s great, in that it does show a very healthy recovery, in a way. But the survey and the science indicate the level taken is too much, and it needs to be reduced,’’ Reid said. ‘‘We hope that [delaying the season] will mean the conditions are less favourable and people won’t have the spare time they did over the holidays.’’ The survey interviewed 1700 randomly selected fishers as they returned with their catch at several sites along the coast. They found on average about 250 people a day fished for pa¯ ua. In the Kaiko¯ ura Marine Area about half the survey respondents were from Christchurch, and about 14% were Kaiko¯ ura residents. Further north at Marfells Beach and Ward Beach, most pa¯ ua fishers were from Blenheim and south Marlborough. The largest five pa¯ ua recorded in the survey were at Ward Beach, one measuring 179mm long. The minimum size limit was 125mm. Reid said fishery officers had long struggled to understand the amount caught by recreational fishers, across all fisheries, not just pa¯ ua. Part of the pa¯ ua fishery consultation would look at how to better record recreational take, he said. That could involve the NZ Fishing Rules App which already collected voluntary fishing reports. MPI proposed either a twomonth pa¯ ua season from March, or three months from May. Submitters were also encouraged to have their say on daily bag limits, minimum size, possible new vehicle and vessel rules, and whether to open commercial pa¯ ua fishing until the end of the fishing year on March 31. Honorary, volunteer fisheries officers would support MPI fisheries officers during the busy summer holiday period, and the Kaiko¯ ura team would have a new 7.5m hard-top Osprey pontoon-style boat, named Kaitiaki by Nga¯ ti Kuri, and blessed last month. Fishery officers would have ‘‘little sense of humour’’ for people who caught pa¯ ua during the closure, Reid said. ‘‘Our fishery officers will be keeping a close eye on the pa¯ ua fishery. It’s not worth risking an expensive infringement ticket so close to Christmas or even prosecution before the court,’’ Reid said. ‘‘If you’re unsure of the fishing rules the best way to find out is to download the free NZ Fishing Rules App. By sticking to the rules, you’ll help protect our kaimoana for future generations.’’ MPI encouraged people to report suspected illegal activity through the ministry’s 0800 4 POACHER number (0800 47 62 24). View the proposal to reopen the pa¯ ua fishery and make a submission by visiting the MPI website. Submissions close at 5pm on November 30.