Anderton addresses challenges for paua industry
Minister of Fisheries, Jim Anderton addressed the Paua Industry Conference this morning and said that the paua industry was poised to grow substantially. He said that the quota system, which had been in place for 20 years, had provided the industry with the certainty needed to encourage investment in production and marketing. Changes to a collective management structure in the last two years, signals a way forward that will bring improvements to the way paua is managed and for increased prices.
"Last year, paua exports earned New Zealand over $50 million. Paua is a luxury item heavily in demand but although there is a global shortage of paua, New Zealand paua sits near the bottom of today’s abalone market.
"As Minister of Fisheries, I have to consider other values, including the value of paua fisheries to recreational fisheries and to Maori who have traditionally enjoyed the fishery. I also have to consider environmental factors and the creation of Marine Protected Areas.
"New Zealanders cherish being able to catch a feed from the sea. It's part of our New Zealand identity and I hope it stays that way forever. Taking a feed of paua from the reef is part of our heritage, but it's coming under threat. Management depends on good information. So I have asked the Ministry to address the issue of getting accurate estimates for the recreational and illegal take. In some popular fishing areas, paua stocks are not what they once were.
"Some Maori have become so concerned about the state of their traditional fisheries that they have asked the government to create mataitai reserves or taiapure-local fisheries. These allow for finer-scale management and for the industry, tangata whenua and recreational fishers to work closely together.
"Some in the paua industry are eager to develop reseeding programmes around New Zealand and this is an excellent initiative. Paua seeding has great potential. But there are some cautions to work through before widespread reseeding programmes can go ahead. We must work through these risks together.
"The approach to Marine Protected Areas is getting much better after the previous fragmented approach. We must protect our different marine habitats and ecosystems, as well as those that are outstanding or rare. The new process will make sure that future marine protection is properly planned. And wherever possible, the new marine protected areas will be created in places that will least affect fishers.
"Another threat is of course theft of paua. Our wild paua fisheries are so easy to access that anyone with a mask and wetsuit can potentially take large quantities every day. Policing the resource is a logistical nightmare so the new initiative to get ‘more eyes on the water’, which is a marine version of the neighbourhood watch scheme increases the likelihood of catching thieves.
"Working collaboratively is the way ahead. The government recognises the benefits of working in partnership with the paua industry and is committed to playing its role. Together we will create more paua and market strategies that position New Zealand abalone as a high-value, premium product," Jim Anderton said today.
For further information, phone Jim Anderton on 021 777 680
OR Sally Griffin (press secretary to Jim Anderton) on 04 471 9936,