Scallop season begins
13 July 2006
By the Ministry of Fisheries
Recreational scallop fishers rejoice – the scallop season opens on the 15th of July, and the fishery is looking good.
Scallop surveys conducted in May* have shown that most scallop beds in the north are in a generally healthy state. Scallops are now much more abundant than in 1999 and 2000, when the fishery was affected by “black gill disease” and decreased to low biomass levels. However, scallop fishing in the Kaipara Harbour is officially banned this season, as part of a two-year temporary rähui closure in an effort to improve the fishery.
Ministry of Fisheries Analyst Todd Sylvester considered that the main reason for the recovery is the two-three years of above average recruitment of juvenile scallops due to good scallop spawning conditions. He added it was important to recognise that the fishery had benefited because, “the northern commercial scallop fishing industry in recent years has taken a responsible and cautious management approach to recommending commercial catch limits to the Minister.”
The daily limit for the top half of the North Island is 20** scallops per person, and the minimum size is 100mm. Changes to the recreational fishing regulations last year now allow a diver operating from a boat to take up to two additional limits for two nominated safety people on board the boat. However, only an extra two bag limits can be taken per boat, regardless of the number of divers on board.
Another regulation change is that shucked scallops may now be possessed and eaten at sea. But, any scallops landed and brought ashore must still be in their shells to allow them to be in a measurable state. Any scallops eaten at sea must come from the individual daily limit of 20.
Coromandel Fishery Officer Jason Howat says it’s important that people remember they are the key component in ensuring the sustainability of the recreational fishery they use. “Taking individual responsibility and looking after the fishery is a key part to ensuring there is something left for the future.
“Play your part when you’re out fishing, stick to the rules and look after your fishery, it’s that simple. If you are taking too much or undersize, you are only cheating yourself or your mates at the end of the day.”
The penalties for possessing excess or undersize scallops can range from infringement notices to prosecution through the courts resulting in fines up to $20,000 and forfeiture of fishing gear, vehicles and boats. The Ministry of Fisheries urges anyone who is unsure of the rules to call O800 4 RULES or visit the Ministry’s website, www.fish.govt.nz.
The recreational scallop season closes on the 14th of February 2007.
For more information contact:
09 820 7690
* The information gained from the May surveys has been used in a draft fisheries plan developed by the Ministry and stakeholders for the Coromandel scallop fishery. The plan has had input from customary, environmental, recreational, and commercial fishing leaders and will be available for public discussion and consultation later this year. Over the next five years, the Ministry will be developing fisheries plans for all the main fisheries around New Zealand as the way of obtaining the greatest benefit out of each fishery.
** The scallop bag limit is different in other areas of New Zealand.