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Fisheries sustainability decisions for 2003-04

Friday, 26 September 2003 Media Statement

Fisheries sustainability decisions for 2003-04

Fisheries Minister Pete Hodgson today announced fisheries management changes for the new fishing year that begins on Wednesday 1 October 2003.

"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."

Total catch limits are being increased for oreo in the Chatham Rise area and tarakihi in the waters around Auckland, Bay of Plenty and Northland. Decreased catch limits will apply to the western stock of the hoki fishery, bluenose around the bottom half of the South Island and paua around the Southland-Otago coast.

Mr Hodgson has accepted a paua industry plan for managing the paua fishery in the top half of the South Island, which means the commercial catch limit for the fishery will stay at the current level for the coming year.

Increased catch limits

Oreo (Chatham Rise area, area code OEO4)
This is a multi-species stock including smooth, black and spiky oreo. As 2003 stock assessments indicate that the current smooth oreo stock size is above the sustainable level, the OEO Total Allowable Catch (TAC) and Total Allowable Commercial Catch (TACC) will increase from 5200 tonnes to 7000 tonnes. Mr Hodgson is encouraging the industry to develop a fishery plan for oreo to address its future management.

Tarakihi (Auckland, Bay of Plenty and Northland – TAR1)
Reflecting current information about catch levels, the TAC will be increased from 1773 to 1958 tonnes. This provides for an increase in the allowance for Maori customary fishing, from 45 to 70 tonnes, and an increase in the recreational fishing allowance, from 310 to 470 tonnes. The TACC will remain at 1398 tonnes.

Commercial fishers had applied for an increase in the TACC. Mr Hodgson said while they had made encouraging progress in engaging with recreational fishers and detailing their proposed catch spreading arrangements, views remain divided. In the absence of a sufficient level of stakeholder agreement the minister has not accepted the commercial fishers’ proposal.

Decreased catch limits

Hoki (throughout New Zealand waters – HOK1)
Stock assessment indicates that the western population of this fishery is in decline. Although sustainability of the stock does not appear to be threatened, fishing at current catch levels is likely to further deplete the western stock. Submissions from stakeholders indicated widespread concern over the status of western stocks, and suggested measures to monitor and avoid catching juvenile hoki. The TACC will therefore be reduced from 200,000 tonnes to 180,000 tonnes. Mr Hodgson has asked the industry to voluntarily agree to limit catch from the western stock to 110,000 tonnes (61.1%), with the remaining 70,000 tonnes (39.9%) to come from the eastern stock.

"This decision is a precautionary step that will lower the risk to the western stock, which is at its lowest biomass level ever," Mr Hodgson said. "The majority of quota holders support a reduction in the total allowable commercial catch. If the western stock does not improve over the next two years, further reductions in the western catch, the total allowable commercial catch, or both will become necessary."

Bluenose (bottom half of the South Island including the Chatham Rise – BNS3)

A transitional allowance of 250 tonnes of bluenose to be landed to the Chatham Islands annually for two years expires on 30 September this year. The TAC for the BNS 3 area is therefore being adjusted from 1211 tonnes to 961 tonnes. The current TACC remains at 925 tonnes and the allowances for customary Maori and recreational fishers are also unchanged.

Paua (Southland/Otago coast – PAU5D)
A two year staged reduction of the TAC was begun in 2002 and will continue for the 2003-04 fishing year. The TAC will be reduced from 159 to 134 tonnes and the TACC from 114 to 89 tonnes.

"Submissions indicated a general acceptance amongst stakeholders that paua stocks in this area have declined," Mr Hodgson said. "However, there are differing views on the measures and timeframes required to halt the decline in the stocks and to begin a rebuild. Within a total allowable catch, fishers are able to manage local depletion and serial depletion, possibly within the context of a fisheries plan. I encourage stakeholders to work together to maintain the sustainability of the fishery."

Retained catch limit

Paua (top half of the South Island – PAU7 )
Mr Hodgson has accepted a paua industry plan for managing the paua fishery in the top half of the South Island, which means the TACC will stay at the current level of 187.24 tonnes and the paua industry will be given the opportunity to actively manage the fishery and increase the spawning and mature paua stock.

Over the last two years the TACC for this fishery has been reduced by 30 per cent to try to halt the decline and improve the amount of paua above the minimum legal size. The results of that reduction, based on the updated stock assessment, suggest there are signs that the proportion of mature paua may have stabilised.

"The growing unity and management capacity within the paua industry in this area means it has a credible ability to manage the stock," Mr Hodgson said. "Collaborative arrangements within the commercial sector are essential if an effective long-term management strategy for this fishery is to emerge."

ENDS

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