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Paua Divers Conserving the Resource

30 July 2014

Paua Divers Conserving the Resource

Marlborough commercial paua divers are again voluntarily increasing the minimum takeable size for the prized delicacy.

The minimum size will be increased to 126mm from October 1 and further increased to 127mm the following year.

The recreational diver minimum size will remain at 125mm.

“The rationale behind voluntarily raising the minimum harvestable size is that it will enhance the fishery by leaving mature paua in the water longer,” commercial diver spokesman Barry Chandler says.

“This will allow more spawning to take place and it also means that the actual number of paua harvested under the total allowable commercial catch is less, as the individual fish are bigger.”

“It’s also good news for the recreational sector and it means they should enjoy better access to 125mm fish,” Barry Chandler says.

“We recognise this is a shared fishery and we all need to play our part.”

“The fishery is in good heart but we take a conservative view in maintaining sustainability.”

The latest voluntary increase follows similar moves on the east and west coasts of the top of the South Island where the minimum size is 130mm and in Ocean and Robin Hood Bays where it is 127mm. Those increases have been in place for six years.

The conservation measures have been developed by PauaMAC7, the commercial stakeholder organisation representing the large majority of quota owners in the coastal area from the Clarence River on the South Island’s east coast northwards across the Sounds and down to Kahurangi Point on the West Coast.

The total Paua7 commercial catch is 187 tonnes across 68 quota owners, 72 divers and approximately 35 boats and is a significant contributor to the local economy.

“We are progressive in our approach and are determined to protect the resource long term,” Mr Chandler, who chairs PauaMAC7, says.

“We have introduced data loggers – electronic units worn by divers – that record where every single paua is taken from along with a wealth of other information such as dive time, catch effort, swell and weather conditions.”

“This allows us to analyse all the information to aid management and fishing decisions in spreading the catch effort.”

“This is a sophisticated advance, funded by the industry, and we are working towards 100 percent coverage,” he says.

“The wider Paua Industry Council is now employing a fulltime marine scientist, Dr Tom McCowan, to assist with research and allow us to better understand the resource.”

“Other local initiatives include annual reseeding, voluntary shelving of catch entitlement, relocation of stunted stocks and diver training and accreditation.”


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