Ministry Plea - Leave Coromandel Scallops to Recover
The Ministry of Fisheries is asking locals and holidaymakers to refrain from harvesting scallops on both sides of the Coromandel Peninsula during the summer holiday period.
This follows reports of discoloured scallops in poor condition in parts of the Hauraki Gulf and in the vicinity of the Coromandel Peninsula. The Ministry commissioned research from the National Insitute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) last September and has now received a draft copy of the research report.
NIWA's preliminary findings indicate that the cause of the discolouration does not appear to be due to any potential disease causing agents. The research findings suggest that it is likely that environmental factors are contributing to the discolouration.
No public health issues have been identified at this time.
One possible reason the shellfish are in poor condition is because there have been very low levels of nitrate in the Hauraki Gulf and Firth of Thames in recent months. Nitrate promotes the growth of phytoplankton that scallops feed on. Other potential causes could be the presence of unusual phytoplankton or algae, or even human induced pollution.
No large-scale deaths of shellfish appear to have been caused by the discolouration. However, the poor condition of scallops may make them vulnerable to predators and other causes of mortality, says the report.
As a precautionary step to protect the scallop population, the Ministry suggests that recreational fishers do not harvest scallops in the vicinity of the Coromandel Peninsula. The commercial scallop fishery has already closed for the season.
The Ministry will continue to monitor the situation, and will announce when further surveys clearly show that scallop condition has improved.
For more information please contact:
Ministry of Fisheries
Tel. 09 379 4700