Between January and February 2014 the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) consulted on proposals that would determine the future management of crayfish. Five out of nine crayfish stocks were reviewed.
The NZ Sport Fishing Council rejected all but one of the proposals on the basis that the crayfisheries must be rebuilt to enable us, the public, reasonable access to our fisheries.
The Ministry is following advice from the National Rock Lobster Management Group that will maintain crayfish in CRA 2, below levels that provide for reasonable public use.
There is a growing gap between the "science" models and what is being observed out on the water, in real time.
Divers are reporting collapsing abundance while their catches crash to almost nothing, particularly on the northeast coast. Reports are that the glory holes are empty!
The NZ Sport Fishing Council has submitted in response to the proposals and highlight important, ongoing issues that are preventing our crayfish stocks from rebuilding.
On March 20th the Minister for Primary Industries, Nathan Guy, released his decisions for selected crayfish stocks and other species. Recreational fishers can expect little improvement to the total lack of size and numbers of crayfish in many areas, and ongoing excessive commercial potting.
The one bright light is the Minister's decision for CRA 9, between the Kaipara Harbour and Westland. It seems this is the healthiest fishery in the country and the Minister's decision ought to maintain the fishery in a healthy state for the foreseeable future.
Below is a chronological list of the proposals, related documents and our submission.
Time has once again been used as a weapon against us, this time to limit our response to outrageous proposals that will keep Bay of Plenty crayfish stocks at all-time low levels. By now the new regime will be in place and our northeastern cray fishery could be another casualty in the race to the bottom. Alongside our snapper, trevally, scallops and gurnard.......
Nathan Guy's recent decision for the future management of seleceted crayfish stocks will not dent the numbers of commercial crayfish pots littering popular coastal areas. Crayfish retail up to $150 per kilo so many Kiwis do not buy crayfish. Our only alternative is to catch them ourselves but that task just got harder, especially off the east coast.
Nathan Guy must intervene and get crayfish management back on track if we want our fisheries restored to healthy levels. As Minister for Primary Industries Mr Guy cannot continue to hide behind the veil of a statutory body offering poor advice while many prime crayfish habitats are deserted, leaving us empty-handed and despairing at barren reefs.
For young and old crayfish are a taonga, a treasure, so recent Ministerial decisions to keep some stocks at all-time lows to meet export orders is abysmal. Nathan Guy announced his decision for the future management of crayfish on March 20th and these will apply from April 1st.
A brief commentary on the Minister's decisions for each of the five crayfish stocks under review. The only bright spot is on the west coast. The west coast fishery (CRA 9) from south of the Kaipara Harbour across the Strait to Westland, seems to be the healthiest fishery in the country. Guy's CRA 9 decision is pleasing. Read this simple summary to understand the CRA 9 decision and views on CRA 2, 3, 4 and 7.
On March 20th Nathan Guy, the Minister for Primary Industries, released his decision for the future management of five crayfish stocks. The decision for the Hauraki Gulf-Bay of Plenty cray fishery locks in an average commercial catch of less than half a kg per potlift for the next five years - the lowest in the country. Needless to say the NZSFC is disappointed with the lack of foresight and willingness to rebuild our depleted cray fisheries.
New Zealanders are missing out on crayfish and scallops because management favours commercial and export priorities ahead of public interests. People are particularly concerned about overfishing of crayfish in the greater Hauraki Gulf/Bay of Plenty marine area, and the collapsed scallop fishery at the top of the South Island.
LegaSea launches the Crayfish and Scallop campaign. LegaSea shares the NZSFC crayfish and scallop submissions with supporters and invites people to sign an e-letter to the Minister, Nathan Guy. Over 34,000 people responding and supported both letters.
After waiting all December the Ministry for Primary Industries finally released its consultation papers for southern scallops and crayfish at the end of January. MPI has only given us, the public of New Zealand, 18 working days to respond. For such important fisheries this is a disgrace and the NZ Sport Fishing Council will be strongly objecting to this process.
The NZSFC advocate that the Minister cannot continue to hide behind the veil of the National Rock Lobster Management Group when it comes to the sustainable management of our taonga, our crayfish. Consultation, the science process and ongoing management are being hijacked by a few interested parties, to the detriment of the marine environment. It is time the Minister became more active and risk averse when managing our fragile fisheries and ecosystems.
There are a variety of views presented in these submissions by commercial and non-commercial interests. As expected, commercial are committed to protecting and increasing their catch shares in the crayfish stocks. Many submissions from recreational interests express concern about low abundance in their areas. Copy of submissions supplied by MPI.
After reviewing the management proposals it seems our fisheries managers are comfortable with current abundance in CRA 2, between Pakiri and East Cape. No significant increase in catch rate or stock size is likely. Estimates of past abundance and current stock size are laughable. The NZSFC is determined the Minister understands that CRA2 is in much worse shape than what the managers are suggesting.
The Ministry for Primary Industries letter advising of the review of sustainability measures for selected scallop and crayfish stocks. There was a raft of catch limit and controls proposed, most of which were objectionable. Most offensive was the limited submission period, only 18 working days, not enough time for us to adequately consult with our members and supporters. Submission deadline was 21 February.
The Ministry for Primary Industries released a discussion paper with proposals for the future management of five crayfish stocks. Only one of the plans is acceptable, if the Minister applies conservative catch levels. If not, the relatively healthy west coast fishery may sink to the lows evident in other areas.
A summary of the status of each crayfish stock, how abundant it is, historical management, catch limits, catch tallies and much more. A dense document, but worth a scan if you are looking for detail.
A preliminary summary of potential management tools that will be used in two crayfish management areas, CRA 2 and CRA 9. Area 2 stretches from Pakiri to East Cape. Area 9 extends south from the Kaipara Harbour down to Westland. There is no hiding from the reality that our crayfish stocks are managed to meet commercial demands, not to provide for our social or cultural wellbeing, or environmental interests.
Between 2010 and 2012 the NZSFC worked with option4 to develop and record management processes for various crayfish stocks. This was a time of great learning and optimism that providing comprehensive feedback would have some positive influence on fisheries management, particularly for our crayfish, our taonga. Despite the lack of any meaningful response, the NZSFC continues to participate in the crayfish processes in the hope that abundance will be restored and future generations will get to witness a rebuilt and productive marine environment.