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Review of selected crayfish stocks
The Minister of Fisheries Stuart Nash has announced there will be commercial catch reductions in two stocks and increases for the Wellington-Hawke’s Bay region and the Southern – Fiordland fish stock.
Recreational fishers did not support the proposed commercial catch increases, recommending the Minister retain the status quo. We support the Minister in reducing commercial catch limits in the Otago and Hauraki Gulf-Bay of Plenty stocks. See below for more.
On January 12th, 2018 the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) released proposals for the future management of four crayfish stocks, CRA 2, 4, 7 & 8. Submissions were due by 9 February.
MPI proposed to increase commercial catch limits for crayfish in CRA 4 (Hawke Bay to Welllington) and CRA 8 (Southland). MPI also proposed reductions to commercial catch limits in CRA 7 (Otago) and CRA 2 (Te Arai to East Cape).
Given the serious concerns about the depleted state of CRA 2, the NZ Sport Fishing Council has engaged more fully in this review and the earlier stock assessment process. Council representatives attended Working Group meetings, stakeholder meetings and some of the National Rock Lobster Management Group meetings over the past year.
On February 12th the a joint recreational submission was sent to MPI from NZSFC-LegaSea and the New Zealand Angling and Casting Association, the largest representative recreational fishing organisations in Aotearoa. This was followed by a submission in support from Spearfishing New Zealand. The joint submitters appreciate this support from SNZ and other representative organisations.
All representative organisations are supporting a more precautionary approach to managing our precious crayfish stocks.
LegaSea has intiated a public awareness campaign and survey to canvass people’s views on the state of CRA 2, which is at an all time low level. By the time the submission was sent to MPI 3,600 surveys had been completed. The survey continues to gather interest and views.
What follows is a summary of relevant, available documents. Latest documents are at the top of the list.
Click on the right hand image to download the document or follow the link to read more details.
The Minister of Fisheries Stuart Nash has announced a raft of management changes for four crayfish stocks between the Hauraki Gulf and Southland. From April 1st there will be commercial catch reductions in two stocks and increases for the Wellington-Hawke’s Bay region and the Southern – Fiordland fish stock. Recreational fishers did not support the proposed commercial catch increases, recommending the Minister retain the status quo. We support the Minister in reducing commercial catch limits in the Otago and Hauraki Gulf-Bay of Plenty stocks.
Advice to the Minister of Fisheries Stuart Nash from the National Rock Lobster Management Group on what he ought to decide for four crayfish stocks between the Hauraki Gulf and Southland. Those stocks are CRA 2 (Hauraki Gulf – Bay of Plenty), CRA 4 (Wellington – Hawke’s Bay), CRA 7 (Otago), and CRA 8 (Southern). The Minister did not agree with the Group’s recommendations for CRA 2 or CRA 4. He agreed with their recommendations for CRA 7 and CRA 8.
All submissions made in response to the crayfish proposals issued in January 2018. In an unusual move, members of the National Rock Lobster Management Group were given the opportunity to re-submit a submission prior to the Minister making a decision. We are not aware of any other group or individuals that were given this opportunity. However, we are aware that the request by the New Zealand Underwater Association asking for more time to collate and consider evidence supporting the proposed changes to CRA 4, 7 & 8 was denied. Consequently, the NZUA did not submit on CRA 4, 7 or 8. [CAUTION: FILE 11 MB]
An easy to read 2-page summary of the joint recreational submission on the crayfish management proposals. Also included are preliminary results from the CRA 2 survey. In the first three weeks the survey attracted 3,900 responses, including 2231 people who had caught crayfish in CRA 2 between Pakiri in the north and East Cape. Of the 3808 respondents who selected an option, 81% favoured conservative management and 42% want the Minister to close CRA 2 for a period.
The joint submitters of NZSFC-LegaSea and the NZ Angling & Casting Association support the Minister in taking a more precautionary approach when managing precious crayfish stocks. There is strong support for total closure or a large reduction in commercial catch limits in CRA 2. The submitters oppose the proposed commercial catch increasses in CRA 4 & 8. The joint submitters also support the proposed 15.5 tonne decrease to commercial catch limits in CRA 7.
The New Zealand Underwater Assocation submit a letter to MPI supporting the joint recreational submission, specifically in regards to the CRA 2 proposals. The NZUA did not receive a formal invitation to submit on the management proposals for any of the rock lobster stocks and has requested from MPI a 90-day extension to enable them to consult with their members and submit on CRA 4, 7 & 8. We await MPI’s response with interest.
Spearfishing New Zealand submit a letter to MPI supporting the joint recreational submission on the crayfish proposals. Spearfishing NZ represents the interests of freedive spearfishers in New Zealand, a group active in the cray fisheries. SNZ reports to around 5,300 divers nationwide. All their members and the wider spearfishing community rely on abundant fisheries as a food source and for the recreational value of harvesting.
LegaSea launch the CRA 2 Crayfish Crisis campaign to raise public awareness of the crayfish management review and gather feedback on the various proposals available to the Minister. A short video and survey were published online. By the time the joint recreational submission was sent to MPI there were around 3,600 survey responses.
A document summarising the MPI proposals for 4 crayfish stocks. This summary includes several recommendations including the need to get fishers to tell their stories of how the fishery has changed over time. This was the catalyst for the CRA 2 Crayfish Crisis campaign. The summary notes that, contrary to some claims by commercial interest, the main problem in CRA 2 is poor recruitment, low numbers of new fish reaching legal size, not high recreational or illegal catch.
The Ministry for Primary Industries propose to increase commercial catch limits for crayfish in CRA 4 (Hawke Bay to Welllington) and CRA 8 (Southland). MPI also proposed reductions to commercial catch limits in CRA 7 (Otago) and CRA 2 (Te Arai to East Cape). MPI issued the proposals on 12 January and submissions were due by 9 February 2018. No extensions available.
The Ministry for Primary Industries publish a Crayfish Plenary document that shows commercial catch per unit of effort (CPUE) in CRA 2 is the lowest in the county, of all 10 crayfish stocks. CPUE in CRA 2 is 0.25 kilos per potlift, that means a commercial fisher has to, on average, pull up his pot 4 times before he harvests one kilo of crayfish. This is pathetic when compared to Fiordland, where CPUE is 3.5 kilos per potlift. CRA 2 is in trouble and the science now recognises this fact. [see page 9]
The Ministry for Primary Industries publish the results of the National Panel Survey which shows that recreational fishers harvested around 41 tonnes of crayfish in the CRA 2 area in 2011-12. The overall recreational allowance in CRA 2 is 140 tonnes. The data also shows that 49% of people surveyed landed one or two crayfish. Another National Panel Survey is underway now and we expect updated harvest estimates next year.