Sunday, 27 September 2020

WHITIANGA WEATHER

New limits on recreational rock lobster fishing coming into effect next month

Despite having a pretty quiet time out on the water during lockdown, the Ministry for Primary Industry’s Whitianga-based fisheries officers have been busy and active over the past few months on board their recently-commissioned vessel.

“Local Fishery Officers, Jake MacDonald and Hayden Coburn, have been extensively utilising the new fisheries patrol vessel, Te Karere Rua, off the Coromandel coastline to monitor commercial and recreational fishing compliance,” said Jason Howat, Chief Compliance Officer for the Waikato, Taranaki and Coromandel. “Among their successes was the discovery and confiscation of 30 illegal cray pots in an area between Great Mercury Island and Kennedy Bay. The cray pots did not have correctly marked floats and in some cases no escape apertures - these were clearly intended to take excess or undersize rock lobsters.

“The pots will be held for 90 days and, if the owner cannot be traced, they will be destroyed.”

Cray fishing is in the spotlight currently as MPI and Fisheries New Zealand aim to educate the public on the new limits for recreational rock lobster fishing which come into effect on 1 July. From that date there will be a reduced take from crayfish per person to three. “We want to get that message out there so that everyone is fully aware,” said Mr Howat. “Commercial fishers have had their quotas reduced also. In terms of the new limits and rules, as always, it is about individual fisher responsibility. Every fisher needs to be familiar with the rules and abide by them to ensure the ongoing sustainability of our important local rock lobster fisheries.”

The changes apply to the entire Hauraki Gulf/Bay of Plenty (CRA2) fishing area, which stretches from Te Arai Point north of Auckland to the East Cape.

There is also a new requirement for telson clipping. The telson is the central part of the tail fan and clipping is a way of marking spiny rock lobster to make it clear that they have been recreationally caught and are not for sale. One-third of the telson is cut off so that it is noticeably shorter than the other sections of the tail fan.

“From 1 July 2020, once a fisher has checked that a lobster is of a legal size and is not subject to any other protections, such as carrying eggs, they must immediately cut one-third off the central telson,” said Mr Howat. “A person must not possess any spiny rock lobster taken from within the CRA2 area if it has not had one-third of the central telson cut off. Telson clipping can be done with a knife or scissors and is like clipping your fingernails.”

Mr Howat also reported a strong level of compliance from boaties over the Covid-19 lockdown period. “We still had patrols out there and we had no major issues,” he said. “It was extremely quiet with even most of our commercial operators staying off the water under Alert Level 4. We encountered one recreational vessel which we referred to the Police to deal with. Overall, people in the Coromandel did very well adhering to the rules.”

Pictured: Illegal cray pots recently seized by the Ministry of Primary Industry’s Whitianga-based fisheries officers. In the background is MPI’s new patrol vessel, Te Karere Rua.

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The Mercury Bay Informer is a highly popular community newspaper, based in Whitianga. The paper is distributed throughout the Coromandel Peninsula, coast to coast from Thames to north of Colville.