Top of the South scallop season opens
16 July 2010
Ministry of Fisheries Field Operations Manager Geoff Clark is calling on scallop fishers to follow the fishing rules and keep an eye out for scallops carrying research tags when they go fishing in the Marlborough Sounds and Tasman and Golden Bays.
The recreational season for gathering scallops in these areas started this week on 15 July.
“Fishers need to make sure they know the bag limits, size limits and seasons before they go scalloping,” Mr Clark said.
The minimum legal size for scallops in the Challenger area (see below) is 90mm measured across the widest part of the shell.
“Taking undersized scallops removes the juveniles before they have had a chance to spawn,” Mr Clark said.
The legal bag limit for scallops is 50 per fisher per day. In addition, divers are entitled to take an extra daily bag for each of up to two safety people on board a boat – provided they are acting as safety people for the divers.
Otherwise, only those actively involved in fishing are entitled to a daily bag limit. For scallop dredgers, this means those who are actively involved in deploying or hauling the dredge.
“Only take what you need, fish for a feed and not to fill the freezer. The bag limits are set to make sure there will be scallops around to catch in future years” said Mr Clark.
The National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) are carrying out research for the Ministry of Fisheries looking into scallop growth rates and productivity. 9000 tags have been placed on scallops in several areas around the country, including Golden Bay, Tasman Bay and the Marlborough Sounds.
“The results of this research will give us valuable information on scallops that will help us to manage the scallop fishery into the future” said Mr Clark.
There are prizes on offer for any fishers who find and return tagged scallops. If fishers catch a tagged scallop they are asked to keep it in the freezer and phone 0800 RING NIWA (0800-746-464) noting the individual scallop tag number and tag colour, when and where it was caught with GPS coordinates if possible, as well as the shell length. See NIWA’s media release at this link http://www.niwa.co.nz/news-and-publications/news/all/have-you-seen-a-scallop-tag-niwa-needs-you-to-play-tag-and-be-into-win
The Ministry of Fisheries will not take action against fishers who keep tagged scallops (but only tagged scallops) that are below the minimum legal size or above normal daily bag limits.
“Breaking the rules by taking excess or undersized scallops that are not tagged as part of this research programme will not be tolerated” said Mr Clark.
Fishery officers and honorary fishery officers will be patrolling and inspecting scallop catches. Fines of $250 to $500 per offence can be imposed on fishers who ignore the rules. Serious breaches can result in confiscation of diving gear, boats and vehicles.
“Fishery officers have the job of protecting our fish stocks for future generations; they don’t want to write tickets, but if you ignore the rules you leave them no choice,” Mr Clark said.
“If you see people taking more than their fair share, you should report them to fishery officers by calling 0800 4 POACHER. They are stealing from you and from future generations.”
The scallop season will close on 14 February 2011. The closure allows scallops to spawn without being disturbed.
The Challenger Fishery Management area stretches from Awarua Point (south of Haast) on the West Coast of the South Island to Clarence River on the East Coast of the South Island including Golden Bay, Tasman Bay and the Marlborough Sounds.