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Rock lobster boost good for deep south business

Minister of Fisheries Jim Anderton has agreed to increase rock lobster catches in the Otago and Southland rock lobster fisheries.

"The fisheries here are rebuilding more quickly than we expected, and I am pleased to be able to pass these gains on to the fishermen and lobster processors," Mr Anderton said.

"The ability to increase catch limits has much to do with the vision and commitment of the Otago and Southland areas' rock lobster management committees in helping to rebuild their fisheries."

In the mid-nineties, commercial fishers in Otago and Southland were only catching an average of around 0.7 kilos of rock lobster per pot-lift. Stakeholders and government both agreed this was well below desirable levels, and together set a strategy to rebuild lobster numbers in the fishery. Their aim was to increase these to a point where commercial fishers would be catching 1.9 kilos of lobster per pot-lift by 2014.

To achieve this catches in the Otago and Southland fisheries were cut by 20 percent in 1999, and a further 20 percent in 2001. After these cuts, fishers started to catch lobsters more easily, suggesting the fisheries were rebuilding.

The strategy aimed to have fishers catching 1.3 kilos of lobster per pot-lift by 2004, and about 1.4 kg/pot-lift by 2005. However, lobster numbers have rebuilt more quickly than anticipated, and catches of around 1.8 kg/pot-lift were made in 2004 and in 2005.

"These recent catch levels suggest our rebuilding programme is well ahead of schedule, with more young lobsters coming into the fishery than we had thought, and that is great news, Mr Anderton said.

ENDS

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