New paua rules for the Chatham Islands
8 September 2009
The way commercial paua divers report their catch in the Chatham Islands will change on 1 October this year Ministry of Fisheries Inshore Fishery Manager for the Chatham Islands Rose Grindley has announced today.
Currently paua divers have to land and report their catch using ‘greenweight’ which is the weight of the whole paua, still in its shell. From 1 October paua catch will be landed and reported as ‘meat weight’ which is the weight of the paua meat after it has been shucked.
Paua in some parts of the Chathams have a shell that is heavily ‘fouled’ with encrusting organisms. This makes it heavier than normal paua would be and commercial fishers recover less of the valuable paua meat from their catch entitlements in areas with encrusted paua.
“This means many fishers target their fishing into areas where the paua are not heavily encrusted to maximise the amount of paua meat they get from their catch” said Ms Grindley.
“This concentrates commercial fishing into certain areas while others are left untouched. This could lead to a situation of ‘localised depletion’” she said.
The change to meat weight reporting will give fishers an incentive to spread their fishing into areas they would previously avoid because of the encrusted paua found there.
“This will help to avoid localised depletion and help the Chatham’s paua industry and the Ministry of Fisheries to better manage the Chatham Island’s paua stocks” Ms Grindley said.
The information gathered through catch reporting is used to monitor catch levels in the fishery and the health of the Chatham’s paua stocks as well as to monitor paua fishers’ catch against their Annual Catch Entitlement.
The Total Allowable Commercial catch for Chatham Islands paua is 326.543 tonnes. This catch was worth almost $23 million in export earnings last fishing year (1 October to 30 September).