Guidelines for gathering paua
Guidelines for gathering paua
Young paua are the breeding stocks of the future. You must be aware of the impact your fishing techniques may be having on the paua resource. While most recreational fishers are responsible, some use fishing techniques which kill undersized paua. Ignorance and poor harvesting techniques can result in high mortalities of undersized paua
Sustainable fisheries within a healthy aquatic ecosystem
Why have a code of practice for amateur paua divers and hand-gatherers?
Recent studies have revealed that we have a special problem with paua. While most recreational fishers are responsible, some use fishing techniques which kill undersized paua. A number of practices used in the recreational paua fishery result in high mortalities of undersized paua through ignorance and poor harvesting techniques.
Many fishers remove undersized paua from the reef surface using sharp instruments. This will usually result in some damage to the foot of the small paua. Paua are unable to clot blood when cut, so even the tiniest nick could result in the paua bleeding to death. Even if the paua survives the cut, the blood will attract predators into the area, and the paua may be killed before it has a chance to clamp down onto the rock surface. Furthermore, damage to the paua may reduce the ability of the paua to clamp onto the rock surface. Research has shown that damaged paua may develop abscesses, which will result in death weeks later.
Paua should not be removed from the water and placed on deck to be counted and measured. Paua left in the sun quickly dry out and will soon die in these conditions.
Left to die
Undersized paua are commonly thrown back into the water with no thought of where the paua may end up. Paua thrown over areas of sand have no hope of survival. Even if paua are thrown over reef areas, they often land on their shell and take some time to right themselves and clamp onto the reef surface. While paua are not attached to a reef they are an easy meal for predators in their area.
Undersized paua should be thought of as next year's harvest. Death of any damaged paua that you return will not only lead to fewer paua in the following year, but also in years to come. This is because young stocks are the breeding stocks of the future.
You could be contributing to this problem quite unknowingly. It is important that you are aware of the impact your fishing techniques may be having on the paua resource.
How important are paua anyway?
- Paua are unique to New Zealand and have always been an important part of our culture. It is in everyone's interests to look after the paua resource.
- This shellfish is highly valued by Maori, recreational fishers and the commercial fishing industry.
- Paua has always been a food source for Maori, and plays a significant role in manaakitanga ki nga manuhiri (hosting of visitors).
- The recreational paua fishery is an important component of the New Zealand lifestyle.
- Commercial exploitation of paua developed and expanded through the 1970's and 1980's into the lucrative commercial industry it is today. The paua industry is an important component of the New Zealand economy, providing jobs and export earnings that benefit all New Zealanders.
Current regulations for amateurs
The amateur harvest of paua is controlled by daily bag and size limits:
There are different limits in different places. For legal size and bag limits please check your local fishing rules.
What should you do if you see suspicious or illegal activity?
If you see others taking more than their daily limit or taking undersized fish, or if you are suspicious about the activity of a person or a group of people, please report what you have seen to the Ministry of Fisheries as soon as you can. If possible, record or memorise the following information:
- Exact location, time and date
- Vessel name and numbers, description of vessel type, colour, length
- Vehicle registration numbers and a description of the make, model, and colour
- Number and description of people involved (and names and addresses if known)
- The details of what you observed or heard about or found.
Whether you phone or write to the Ministry of Fisheries, any information provided in confidence will remain confidential.