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Fisheries floating pāua proposals

Fisheries New Zealand is urging people to have their say on a draft Pāua Fisheries Plan for the commercial pāua fishery along Wairarapa’s coast.

Fisheries New Zealand’s acting director of fisheries management, Robert Gear, said Wairarapa’s pāua fishery includes blackfoot and yellowfoot pāua.

The local fishery is within the PAU 2 quota management area.

Gear said the area has been “stable” for many years, and although it’s estimated to be in good health, some areas are being put under “increasing pressure”.

He said the draft plan aims to enhance current settings to support the sustainability of the fishery area.

The PAU 2 Industry Association Incorporated has developed the plan on behalf of quota owners and harvesters in the area, with the involvement and support of Fisheries New Zealand, Gear said.

Proposals within the plan include improving pāua productivity and protecting breeding stock by increasing the minimum size of harvested pāua and controlling where harvesting happens in finer detail. This would include adjusting the minimum size of caught pāua across different areas.

The plan also hopes to reduce the total amount of commercial catch by “setting aside and not harvesting an agreed proportion of Annual Catch Entitlement”.

Finally, the plan would introduce the use of methods like translocation of pāua to other areas within the fishery to support populations.

The plan will apply to commercial pāua fishing only and be limited to the area where commercial harvesting takes place, which is from Turakirae Head to Blackhead Lighthouse.

The draft plan includes objectives to manage stocks at “above sustainable levels”, so the fishery thrives in the future.

Late last year, ANZ head of sustainable finance Dean Spicer used pāua fisheries as an example of why businesses can no longer ignore their impact on nature and must invest in science.

He pointed out that Seafood New Zealand estimates exports of pāua are worth more than $50m yearly.

“Add to this the domestic market and recreational value, and it becomes clear how much of a taonga it is for local communities, quota owners and the economy.

“But like many of our other marine species, pāua are susceptible to our rapidly changing climate.”

As the Earth warms, he noted, it has been predicted that New Zealand will experience frequent and more severe marine heatwaves, along with murkier waters.

Paua are known to be heavily impacted by both conditions, Spicer said, which is why the bank has teamed up with Sustainable Seas National Challenge to identify and assess the risks of climate change and other environmental stressors on the industry.

The results of their research are due to be released this year.

Spicer said, now more than ever, nature must be a part of all decision-making, including financial, economic, political and business decisions.

Gear has encouraged anyone interested in the paua fishery to give feedback by July 24.

Further information, including how to make a submission, is available on the Ministry for Primary Industries’ website.

Grace Prior
Grace Prior
Grace Prior is a senior reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age with a keen interest in environmental issues. Grace is the paper’s health reporter and regularly covers the rural sector, weather, Greater Wellington Regional Council, and coastal stories.

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