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Foveaux Oyster fishery needs new management

Foveaux Oyster fishery needs new management

Forest and Bird wants the Ministry of Fisheries to initiate a new management regime for the Foveaux Strait Oyster beds, otherwise the long-term prognosis for oysters will be bad.

Fisheries Minister, Pete Hodgson is expected to make a decision on this years Foveaux oyster quota in March, and it is likely that Ministry of Fisheries will recommend that he halves this season's total allowable catch. (Southland Times 4.2.03)

Forest and Bird's Southern Conservation Officer, Sue Maturin said that halving the catch on it's own is not enough to save the oyster fishery.

"Continued dredging of the bryozoan beds is destroying the very habitat that oysters settle on, and without a change in management to include closed areas, rotational fishing and marine protected areas the whole oyster fishery and the Foveaux Strait blue cod fishery is at stake."

"One hundred and thirty years of oyster dredging has obliterated many of the bryozoan reefs which were once all across the strait. The dredging has removed most of the biodiversity on these reefs, so that today oysters are the only epifauna remaining."

"These reefs will take decades to rebuild. Similar reefs in Half Moon Bay on Stewart Island have only just begun to recover, some 75 years after fishing ceased," she said.

"With the accelerated modification of oyster habitat oyster mortality from diseases has increased."

"NIWA Scientists suggested in 2001 that rotational fishing of oysters could mitigate the effects of dredging on the habitat and that marine protected areas would hasten habitat recovery."

Ms Maturin said Forest and Bird has been calling for action from the Ministry of Fisheries since 2001. "The Ministry has so far failed to respond and continues to ignore its legal obligations under the Fisheries Act 1996 to maintain marine biodiversity."

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