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Strong community support Kaipara scallop closure

Strong community support for Kaipara scallop closure

Strong community support was an important influence on a decision to temporarily close the non-commercial scallop fishery in the Kaipara Harbour, Fisheries Minister David Benson-Pope said today.

Mr Benson-Pope has agreed to a request from local tangata whenua and the Kaipara Harbour Sustainable Fisheries Management Study Group for a closure that will apply from 15 July, 2005, and run for two years. It will apply to all amateur scallop fishers, both customary and recreational.

"The harvest of scallops in the Kaipara Harbour is a key recreational fishery, as well as an important customary fishery for Ngati Whatua," Mr Benson-Pope said. "I am satisfied that harvesting pressure combined with poor conditions for recruitment are contributing factors behind anecdotal reports of a decline to this fishery. The purpose of the temporary closure is to alleviate harvesting pressure which will assist recovery of the scallop beds."

Commercial fishers are already prohibited from taking scallops in the Kaipara Harbour.

"Feedback from the local Kaipara Harbour community and others with interests in the harbour has been almost unanimously in favour of the temporary restriction on harvesting," said Mr Benson-Pope.

Local marae have been limiting quantities of scallops harvested in the harbour for some time. They support the closure so that in future scallops may become more available to meet customary needs of marae and whanau of the Kaipara Harbour.

In a joint statement Te Uri o Hau Settlement Trust, Te Runanga o Ngati Whatua Trust Board and the Kaipara Study Group, in requesting the closure said: The proposed closure is an important step in improving this resource so that harvesting can recommence. This is a step towards a more sustainable future for the Kaipara Harbour".

The Ministry will be working with local residents, iwi members and Honorary Fisheries Officers to inform people about the closure. Signs would be put up to make people aware of the harvesting restrictions. There will be a maximum $5000 penalty for taking scallops from the harbour during the two-year closure.

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