Surveying our scallops
11 May 2006
The annual scallop survey to assess the state of the main scallop beds in the Hauraki Gulf and Bay of Plenty will be conducted in mid May. The survey provides information to help the Minister of Fisheries set the annual catch limits for the scallop fishery.
The areas and approximate survey dates are:
- Papamoa Beach / Motiti Island (12-14 May).
- Waihi Beach (15 May).
- Mercury Islands (16-19 May).
- Colville (20 May).
- Little Barrier Island (20-21 May).
Research surveys since 2002 have shown that the abundance of scallops has improved considerably since 1999-2000 when the fishery was affected by “black gill disease”. Scallop abundance is now at very high levels in the main beds between the Mercury Islands and Opito Bay, and in most of the other scallop areas. Commercial scallop fishers have taken a cautious and responsible approach by requesting relatively modest catch increases as the population has rebuilt.
In June this year, research will also be carried out to take a closer look at scallop populations in some of the main recreational scallop beds currently closed to commercial scallop fishing. The dive survey will focus on four key areas: inside Kawau Island; general Mercury Islands area (The Cove on Great Mercury Island, Opito Bay, Otama Beach); Whangarei Harbour; and the Bay of Islands.
The National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) will conduct both surveys for the Ministry of Fisheries. The information will also be used in a fisheries plan being developed for the Coromandel scallop fishery. A draft plan is currently being prepared by the Ministry of Fisheries with input from customary, environmental, recreational, and commercial fishing leaders. The draft plan 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.