GISBORNE ROCK LOBSTER:
RECREATIONAL SEASON ENDS, COMMERCIAL CONTINUES
Bad weather has prompted a month's extension to the commercial season for fishing rock lobster in the Gisborne area, but the recreational season will end as usual on Thursday.
"Commercial fishers are facing problems because unusually bad weather has prevented fishing for significant periods during winter," said Ministry of Fisheries Policy Manager Mark Edwards.
"The reduced fishing opportunity means that rock lobster catch is well down on previous years. Because fishers traditionally receive a good price for rock lobster during winter, the reduced catch has the potential to cause significant economic hardship.
"The decision by the Government to extend the commercial season to allow fishing during September 2000 will allow commercial fishers more opportunity to catch rock lobster while the value is still high."
Mr Edwards said the season would not be extended for recreational fishers because September was not an important month for recreational fishing. Recreational fishers would be able to fish in December and January, when the fishery was closed to commercial fishing.
"The extension to the commercial season will benefit recreational fishers because it extends commercial fishing over a greater period, providing more opportunity for commercial fishers to catch their quota," Mr Edwards said.
"If more commercial quota is caught before the commercial season opens again on 1 February, there will be less competition between commercial and recreational fishers for lobsters in February and March."
In 1993 the CRA 3 rock lobster stock was depleted, and management measures were put in place to rebuild the rock lobster fishery, including reducing commercial quota to half current levels at that time, a change to the minimum legal size, protection for females and closed seasons.
As a result, the rock lobster fishery in the area has improved markedly. The extension to the season for commercial fishers will not impact on sustainability of fishery because commercial catch will continue to be restrained by the commercial catch limit.
The Total Allowable Catch (TAC) for the CRA 3 fishery and other management measures will be reviewed in late 2000 to make sure there is a high probability that fishery will continue to rebuild during the 2001/2002 fishing year.
Mr Edwards said the change to the fishing season this year had generated a lot of comment from interested parties, and said the full review of the management regime would provide for involvement by all those with an interest in the management of the rock lobster fishery.
For further information please contact
Mark Edwards, Ministry of Fisheries
04 470 2600