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Mussel Beds To Remain Closed

Mussel Beds To Remain Closed

Minister of Fisheries Jim Anderton has agreed to renew the temporary closure of green-lipped mussel beds in Ohiwa Harbour, Bay of Plenty for a further two-year period. This provides statutory support for a local traditional rhui over the area.

"The Ohiwa mussel beds are an important resource for the people of Te Runanga O Ngat Awa and Upokorehe Hapu of Whakatohea." Jim Anderton says. "These beds have become depleted in recent years, and this has affected the ability of tangata whenua to take these shellfish for customary purposes."

The previous closure on taking green-lipped mussels from Ohiwa Harbour ran between December 2003 and December 2005, and was established under section 186A of the Fisheries Act.

However, the harbour's mussel beds are still depleted and have not yet recovered to a level where harvest would be sustainable. So the people of Te Runanga O Ngat Awa and Upokorehe Hapu of Whakatohea extended their traditional rhui over harvesting green-lipped mussels in the harbour, and asked the Minister of Fisheries to renew the government's 'section 186A' temporary closure.

The Minister of Fisheries has agreed to renew this closure, providing statutory support for the traditional rhui. The closure takes effects from 21 July 2006 and continues for two years.

The closure is widely supported by local iwi and the wider community, and is unlikely to significantly affect the rights of customary, recreational or commercial fishers in the area.

"We're really pleased with the Minister's decision because it means the mussel beds will have a chance to recover," says Ngati Awa Environment Manager Beverley Hughes.

"We'd like to thank all of the submitters who supported our application, especially Ngaiterangi from Tauranga, Te Ohu Kaimoana, Department of Conservation, Forest and Bird, Environment Bay of Plenty and Whakatane District Council."


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