Minister reduces East Coast crayfish quota to ensure sustainability
22 March 2005
The total allowable catch for rock lobster in the East Coast CRA 3 fishery is to be reduced by 30 percent to ensure sustainability, Fisheries Minister David Benson-Pope announced today.
The CRA 3 rock lobster fishery extends from East Cape to the Wairoa River, and includes Mahia Peninsula.
Mr Benson-Pope says he has made a decision to cut the quotas after a recent assessment of CRA3 stock showed that the fishable stock size had declined since 1999.
"Fisheries scientists confirmed a belief that the stock would further decline if the current Total Allowable Catch continued," said Mr Benson-Pope. "For that reason I took the decision to reduce the total catch. By acting now we guarantee the long-term success of this important fishery."
Mr Benson-Pope has set a new Total Allowable Catch of 319 tonnes, down from 453 tonnes. The allowance for other sources of fishing-related mortality was also adjusted from 86 tonnes to 89 tonnes. A new total allowable commercial catch of 190 tonnes has been set. The changes come into effect on 1 April 2005.
In 2004 CRA3 commercial fishers responded to observed declines in stock size and catch rates by voluntarily reducing their total catch allowance from 327 tonnes to 210.3 tonnes for the 2004-05 fishing year. Commercial fishers had also offered to voluntarily reduce their catch to around 190 tonnes for the 2005/06 fishing year to address the decline in the CRA 3 stock.
Mr Benson-Pope praised CRA 3 commercial fishers for their initiative and for their action in 2004-05. However, he noted his legal obligation to set catch limits at a level that ensured the future sustainability of the stock.
As well as the catch reductions, the Minister has asked the National Rock Lobster Management Group to review other aspects of CRA 3 management, and in particular, the different minimum legal size for commercial fishers in winter and closed seasons.