The recreational pāua fishing season in Kaikōura opened on 15 April with new rules and daily catch limits.
The fishery, which was closed in 2016 after the damage caused by the earthquake, had recovered well but Fisheries New Zealand said caution needed to be exercised to support sustainability.
“The fishery is critically important to tangata whenua and the local community, so we are taking a precautionary approach by reducing catch limits,” said Fisheries New Zealand regional compliance manager Howard Reid.
“The opening is deliberately timed for the off-peak part of the year, reflecting the strong feedback we received during consultation.”
The area from Marfells Beach to Conway River will be open for people to gather up to a daily limit of three ordinary blackfoot pāua and three yellow foot pāua per gatherer per day. The minimum size for black foot pāua is 125mm and for yellowfoot pāua it is 80mm.
Within the Oaro-Haumuri Taiāpure on the coast south of Kaikoura, the daily limit is reduced to two blackfoot pāua with a larger minimum size of 135mm. People can also take only two yellowfoot pāua from this area with a minimum size of 80mm.
Fishers actively gathering pāua can take their daily limit only and are prohibited from taking a daily limit on behalf of another person or topping up the catch of someone else.
“Our fishery officers will be on patrol throughout the season, and they’ll be inspecting your catch. You may not see us every time you fish for pāua, but you can be assured that we will be keeping a close watch on all pāua harvesting along our coast,” Reid said.
A survey will be carried out to provide information about fishers’ catch and effort and along with in-water surveys of pāua stocks, will determine the future of the fishery.
“How we treat this season will be considered for future seasons. If you’re unsure of any rules, ask a fishery officer or download the fishing rules app, which works even if you’re outside a coverage area. If we all fish responsibly, the resource will hopefully be sustainable into the future,” Reid said.
Fisheries New Zealand and the Department of Conservation (DOC) are also reminding people that pāua fishing is not allowed inside Hikurangi Marine Reserve.
DOC Kaikōura marine reserves Ranger Roger Williams said patrolling DOC rangers will be aiming to prevent people from taking pāua, and infringement notices with $600 fines for fishing in the marine reserve could be issued, as needed.
“DOC and Te Rūnanga o Kaikōura are concerned about the harm to Hikurangi Marine Reserve’s pāua population from illegal gathering, as occurred during the last recreational pāua fishing season. It is also damaging to the recovery of its marine ecosystem to a more natural state after more than seven years of protection. We increased our DOC ranger presence at the marine reserve last pāua fishing season and we’re doing it again this time. We’ve also put in more signs along the marine reserve’s shoreline to ensure people know it’s a marine reserve, with no fishing allowed, as many people last year seemed unaware of it.
“Hikurangi and other marine reserves are strictly no-take areas with no fishing or disturbance of marine life allowed. Anyone going fishing must ensure they know the rules and abide by them, including knowing marine reserve locations and rules.”
Pāua fishing is also prohibited from the Waiopuka Reef area, Mangamaunu Mātaitai Reserve, Oaro Mātaitai Reserve, Te Waha o te Marangai Mātaitai Reserve, and Te Taumanu o Te Waka a Māui Taiāpure.
The two-month recreational season ends on 15 June 2023.
For more information, visit mpi.govt.nz.