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Fisheries Sustainability Decisions For 2001-02

Fisheries Minister Pete Hodgson has announced fisheries management changes for the new fishing year that begins today.

"These decisions follow consideration of the most recent scientific assessments and consultation with all stakeholders, including Maori, recreational and commercial fishers and environmental groups," Mr Hodgson said. "The aim is to ensure as far as possible the sustainability of fisheries and the marine environment."

The main decisions include:

- a catch increase from 800 to 1400 tonnes for the upper North Island orange roughy quota area and a reduction from 430 to 110 tonnes for the mid West Coast area;

- a reduction in the total hoki catch from 250,000 tonnes to 200,000 tonnes;

- catch reductions for oreos in the east coast South Island and Chatham Islands/Chatham rise areas;

- catch reductions for gemfish around most of the North Island;

- a reduction in quota for the Marlborough Sounds - Nelson commercial paua fishery, combined with a voluntary catch reduction;

- increases to catch limits for alfonsino, bluenose, elephant fish and sea perch in certain areas;

- the opening of some areas to commercial hand-gathering of beach cast seaweed, where the potential impacts are likely to be small or manageable.

“Catch limits will often fluctuate under yearly review as our knowledge of fisheries continues to improve," Mr Hodgson said. "Overall New Zealand’s fish stocks are in reasonable shape, and the quota management system puts us ahead of fisheries management in many other countries.”

Further information on catch limits and other decisions is attached.

Orange roughy

Some large cuts were made to orange roughy catch limits last year to address urgent sustainability concerns in three fisheries ¡X East Cape (area ORH2A North), mid-East Coast (ORH2A South, ORH2B, ORH3A) and Challenger Plateau (ORH7A), which is off the west coast of central New Zealand.

This year there is a catch limit increase from 800 to 1400 tonnes for the exploratory upper North Island orange roughy quota area (ORH1) and a reduction from 430 to 110 tonnes for the mid West Coast area (ORH7B).

The upper North Island area, which extends from Kapiti almost to East Cape, is under the adaptive management programme. This allows variations in the catch limit for a fish stock whose size is uncertain, providing the fishing effort is accompanied by monitoring and research that will allow the Ministry of Fisheries to better assess the fishery.

For the mid West Coast area the latest fishery assessment suggests the stock is well below optimal levels. The catch limit is being reduced to allow the stock to rebuild.

For the major orange roughy quota area covering the Chatham Rise, Southland and Sub-Antarctic waters (ORH 3B), the total catch limit of 12,700 tonnes is unchanged but there are some significant re-allocations within sub-areas. The limit for the Northeast and South Chatham Rise will increase from 4950 tonnes to 8400 tonnes. The limits for the Northwest rise, Arrow Plateau (east of the Chatham Islands) and Sub-Antarctic will decrease by 3450 tonnes.

For the mid-East Coast fish stock (ORH2A South, ORH2B, ORH3A) the TACC of 1500 tonnes will not be reduced for the 2001-02 fishing year. However a decision rule requires the industry to limit its catch to 800 tonnes until the results of new research in the fishery are available early next year. The final catch limit for the fishery will be determined following analysis of the research results.

Hoki

The hoki fishery is New Zealand’s largest by volume and one of the most important in value. Regular research enables the fishery to be monitored and assessed and results this year have shown a catch reduction is required.

The catch limit for the Hoki 1 area (surrounding all the New Zealand coastline) will be reduced from 250,000 tonnes to 200,000 tonnes. Within this a catch limit of 70,000 tonnes has been set for the eastern grounds, which include Cook Strait, the Chatham Rise and the east coasts of the North and South Islands.

The catch reduction for the 2001-02 fishing year is the first step in a phased management response. It aims to strike a balance between minimising the risk of decline in the fishery and allowing the industry to adjust its operations and practices to mitigate the economic impact. Further management decisions will follow the results of new research available in 2002.

Hoki fishery environmental issues

Fur seals are caught in the hoki fishery and trials of marine mammal exclusion devices are under way. These are designed to expel fur seals alive from trawl nets.

The Ministry of Fisheries and the Department of Conservation are also preparing a national action plan to reduce the incidental capture of seabirds, particularly vulnerable species. The plan will set targets and objectives for monitoring, assessing and reducing seabird mortality in key fisheries over the next five years.

Oreos

The East Coast South Island (OEO 3A) catch limit will be reduced from 4400 to 3900 tonnes, as stock assessment suggests the stock will decline at current levels of catch.

The Chatham Islands/Chatham Rise (OEO 4) catch limit will be reduced from 7000 to 5200 tonnes. Future management action in this area will be linked to determination of a long term harvest strategy for the fishery and new stock assessment information expected in 2002.

Gemfish

The catch limit for gemfish in the top half of the North Island (SKI 1) has been reduced from 460 to 218 tonnes. For the bottom half of the eastern North Island (SKI 2) the limit has been reduced from 520 to 248 tonnes.

The current assessment of these stocks shows they are well below optimal levels and the reduction takes the catch limits down to the most recent estimates of sustainable yield.

Paua

The catch limit for paua around the Marlborough Sounds-Nelson coastline (PAU7) has been reduced to halt the decline of the stock.

A two to three year management programme will be implemented in the area, beginning in 2001 with a commercial catch reduction limit reduction from 267.48 to 240.73 tonnes. The industry has voluntarily agreed to reduce the catch by a further 20 percent in the coming year. Overall this will result in a catch reduction of 30 percent.

Future action will be linked to a long term fisheries plan being developed by stakeholders.

Alfonsino, bluenose, elephant fish, sea perch

The catch limits for these four species in specified areas have been increased under the adaptive management programme.

For alfonsino around the top half of the North Island (BYX 1) the catch limit increases from 31 to 300 tonnes. For bluenose around the Chatham Islands and in the Sub-Antarctic (BNS 1) the limit increases from 357 to 925 tonnes. For elephant fish in the Sub-Antarctic (ELE 5) the limit increases from 71 to 100 tonnes, equivalent to the average catch level for the past four fishing years. For sea perch off the east coast of the South Island (SPE 3) the limit increases from 738 to 1000 tonnes.

Beach cast seaweed

A limited number of areas, where the potential impact is likely to be small or manageable, will be open for commercial harvest of beach cast seaweed. The seaweed must be gathered by hand and existing restrictions include a ban on deliberate detachment.

Some commercial seaweed gathering is already undertaken and the level of activity is expected to increase when beach-cast seaweeds become exempt from a permit moratorium in October.

Mr Hodgson said he supported a management code of practice being adopted as a possible alternative to further regulation, and encouraged industry to work with the Ministry of Fisheries to establish such a code. The Ministry will monitor harvesting during 2001-02 and assess the adequacy of the open areas and regulations by October next year.

Open areas in the North Island are distributed along the upper west coast, Far North east coast, south-east Auckland coast, western Coromandel, Bay of Plenty and south-east Wairarapa. Open areas in the South Island are in northern and southern Canterbury, northern Otago, Te Waewae Bay in Southland and part of the north coast of Stewart Island.


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