Authorities in New Zealand have announced the closure of the east Coromandel scallop fishery for two years, starting this Saturday, and this applies to both commercial and recreational fishing for scallops. Other fishing activities in the area can continue under existing rules.
A public consultation on the request from the Ngāti Hei Trust for a two-year shutdown of the scallop fishery took place between April and May, according to director of fisheries management Emma Taylor.
‘We received more than 2000 submissions, with the majority supporting a closure. The feedback from tangata whenua and the public reflects the results of recent scientific surveys, commissioned by Fisheries New Zealand. These highlight concerns around the sustainability of scallop stocks right across the northern scallop fisheries, including the east Coromandel area,’ she said.
‘While addressing fishing activity is part of the picture, we also know that scallops are affected by land-based impacts such as sedimentation, and by changes to water quality. The closure will relieve some of the pressure while work continues by central and local Government to address fishing and non-fishing related impacts. A large part of Opito Bay was already closed to commercial scallop harvesting, on top of seasonal restrictions for both recreational and commercial fishing.’
The closure is legally enforceable from Saturday 11th September. Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) fishery officers will continue to patrol the coast supporting public awareness and enforcing the rules. The closure follows a customary rāhui placed by Ngāti Hei on the Opito Bay area in December, to take pressure off the scallop fishery.
‘The new closure area is much larger and applies to both recreational and commercial scallop fishing. This will support scallop populations, across a larger area of the coastline and is part of the overall scallop management picture that Fisheries New Zealand is currently considering,’ Emma Taylor said.
‘Customary management tools and temporary closures such as rāhui, provide an important mechanism to support the protection of our fisheries resources.’