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Minister congratulates crayfish industry

Hon Jim Anderton

Minister of Agriculture, Minister for Biosecurity
Minister of Fisheries, Minister of Forestry
Associate Minister of Health
Associate Minister for Tertiary Education

Progressive Leader

14 February 2008 Media statement

Minister congratulates crayfish industry

Fisheries Minister Jim Anderton today congratulated the rock lobster (crayfish) industry in the lower North Island after they announced their intention to voluntarily reduce their catch for the coming season.

The CRA4 Rock Lobster Industry has agreed not to fish around 60 percent of their annual catch entitlement for the new fishing season starting 1 April. This follows a voluntary commercial catch reduction of 44 percent in the current fishing year (April 2007 – March 2008).

“I applaud the CRA4 industry for their responsible action,” Jim Anderton said.

“This kind of responsible self-management within sustainable limits is exactly what the Quota Management System is all about. The industry is showing that their commitment to this fishery is for the long term; they are not about making a quick buck and moving on.

“It also shows the forward thinking and business savvy of the CRA 4 industry. Intelligent management like this is exactly what is needed to ensure New Zealand businesses remain competitive in the international marketplace,” Jim Anderton said.

“The information we have tells us that the CRA4 stock level is declining after being very high from the mid-90s through to three to four years ago,” Jim Anderton said. “Nevertheless, numbers are still well above the level where I would have concerns about the sustainability of the stock.”

“Research is undertaken on crayfish fisheries regularly. If a future stock assessment shows the CRA 4 stock has fallen, or is going to fall below acceptable levels I will take action and reduce catches,” Jim Anderton said. “It is my job to ensure the sustainability of our fisheries into the future.”

The CRA4 industry is acting to make sure their fishery is in good shape economically as well as biologically. In voluntarily reducing their catch, they are looking to increase the size and abundance of lobster available at peak catching times when export market prices are at their best, both in the coming season and also for future seasons.



The CRA 4 rock lobster fishery extends from the Wairoa River on the North Island’s east coast, southwards along the Hawkes Bay, Wairarapa and Wellington coasts, through Cook Strait and north to the Manawatu River.

* From the mid 1990s through the early 2000s, the CRA 4 fishery experienced a period of very high abundance, most likely due to high settlements of juvenile rock lobsters in the early 1990s.

* More recently, crayfish numbers in the CRA 4 fishery have declined. Research completed in 2005 showed abundance was still well above the level that would cause concern about the sustainability of the fish stock and prompt a move to cut catch limits.

* Forward projections of stock abundance undertaken in 2005 suggested numbers of crayfish in the CRA 4 stock would continue to decline if catch continued at the same levels but would likely (with 93% probability) remain above the level that would cause concern about the sustainability of the CRA 4 fish stock.

* Quota owners in a fishery always have the option of collectively managing catch within the Total Allowable Commercial Catch (i.e. the catch allocated to commercial fishers by the Minister). The reasons for collectively choosing to reduce catches or “shelve Annual Catch Entitlement” include:

* To improve the economic performance of the fishery – sometimes economic returns are better if more fish are left in the water, because this improves catch rates and reduces the costs of fishing.

* To avoid a cut in catch limits – if abundance in a fishery falls below the level required by law the Minister has an obligation to reduce catches − fishers will sometimes act voluntarily to retain the fishery above this level and avoid catch limit reductions.

* If the stock falls below the “reference level” the Minister is obliged by law to cut the Total Allowable Catch (the TAC) and reduce associated catch allowances as appropriate − voluntary catch reductions cannot be used as a substitute for the Minister taking this action.


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