Naturally small paua in Taranaki leads MFish to propose a change in the recreational fishing rules
23 March 2009
The Ministry of Fisheries is seeking public feedback on a proposal to change the rules for recreational paua fishing in Taranaki after a study has shown that Taranaki paua are naturally smaller than most other parts of New Zealand.
The proposed new rules would reduce the recreational minimum legal size for paua from 125mm to 85mm in Taranaki.
A scientific study conducted by the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) on the Taranaki paua fishery has shown that Taranaki paua are naturally small, only reaching a maximum size of about 90‑100mm. the study also found that they become sexually mature at a much smaller size than other areas.
Currently, a national minimum legal size limit of 125mm in length applies to all recreational paua fisheries including Taranaki. This means that most paua in Taranaki never reach a legal size.
“This research shows that Taranaki paua are naturally smaller than in most other parts of the country and this means it may be appropriate to reduce the size limit for the region” said MFish Inshore Manager Dan Lees.
The proposals would set a new minimum legal size limit of 85mm for paua within the area between the Awakino River and the Wanganui River. This area includes most paua beds within the Taranaki region.
MFish is also seeking feedback from the community on whether to retain the 10 paua daily bag limit or decrease it to 5 paua per day.
“A lower daily bag limit would reduce the impact of fishing on the paua beds as people take up the opportunity to gather paua they could not previously catch” Dan said.
A smaller size limit in Taranaki could create some compliance problems for the paua fishery, both in Taranaki and in other nearby areas. To address these problems, MFish is proposing that amateur fishers who collect paua in Taranaki may only possess that smaller paua inside a defined area. The proposed ‘area limitation on possession’ rule would apply to the western area bounded by State Highways 3 and 4 (see map below). This area includes the majority of the Taranaki population that live near the coast.
The proposed changes affect the recreational fishery only. They will not affect the ability for Maori to continue to issue customary fishing authorisations for people to gather paua for hui and tangi.
Following public consultation the Minister of Fisheries will consider the proposals and make a decision on whether the changes should go ahead. The proposals would then need to be approved by Cabinet. If the changes are approved they would take effect on 1 October 2009.
MFish plans to commission a further study on the Taranaki paua fishery after 4-5 years to evaluate the impacts of recreational fishing. If necessary, additional changes to the amateur fishing rules, both in Taranaki and in other parts of New Zealand could be made at that time.
More information on the proposals for the Taranaki recreational paua fishery can be obtained from the MFish website.
The deadline for public submissions on these proposals is 6 April 2009.