Luxton Closes Commercial Scallop Fishing Areas To Protect Recreational And Maori Interests (03 Mar 99)
The Minister for Food and Fibre, John Luxton today announced his intention to close some commercial scallop fishing areas in the Bay of Plenty, Coromandel Peninsula and Hauraki Gulf. The areas to be closed are at Motiti Island, Mount Maunganui - Papamoa beaches, Bowentown, Tairua, Opito Bay, Otama, Great Mercury Island, Waiheke Island, Omaha Bay and Blind Bay (Great Barrier).
The Minister's action follows an on-going dispute between commercial and non-commercial fishers in the Coromandel scallop fishery, about the effects of commercial dredging where non-commercial harvesting also occurs. Between 1995-97, the commercial fishers involved, agreed not to dredge for scallops in popular non-commercial areas. In 1998, stakeholder representatives tried unsuccessfully to re-negotiate this agreement.
"Regulated closures are necessary because stakeholders are unable to agree on a revised voluntary arrangement that offers sufficient protection for non-commercial fishers. In the absence of any agreement, commercial vessels fished in some of the most popular recreational areas. If this dredging had continued unabated, the number of scallops available to non-commercial fishers would have made it difficult for them to obtain their daily bag limits".
The boundaries of most of the closed areas mirror those that applied in the 1995-97 voluntary arrangement. There have been adjustments at Waiheke and Omaha and the closure at Blind Bay on Great Barrier has also been added.
"My decision on the location and extent of the closed areas was made on the basis that they should include the main scallop beds where non-commercial harvesting occurs. The closures do not extend into deeper water beyond the range of non-commercial diving and dredging; they recognise customary fishing interests; and have boundaries that are easily recognisable for compliance purposes."
"I hope that by making a decision about this contentious issue, it will pave the way for stakeholders to continue talking about the other initiatives that were part of the trial management plan for the Coromandel scallop fishery" Mr Luxton concluded.
Mr Luxton emphasised that introducing closure regulations will ultimately be a matter for Cabinet to decide. Cabinet should make a decision in late March.