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Closure of beaches to shellfish gathering


Closure of beaches to shellfish gathering


Fisheries Minister Jim Anderton announced today that two beaches in the Hauraki Gulf will be closed to shellfish gathering, due to concern about the effect large numbers of people gathering cockles is having on the cockle beds.

There are two different types of closure being put in place, a two-year temporary closure or rähui at Umupuia Beach and a seasonal closure at Cockle Bay over summer and autumn every year. Both closures will come into effect on Thursday 16 October 2008.

Jim Anderton said the cockle beds at Cockle Bay and Umupuia Beach were under pressure from large numbers of people gathering cockles.

"I am concerned that if we don’t act, before long there may not be any cockles left. These closures will relieve the pressure the cockle beds are currently under and help ensure the resource is available for future generations.”

The wider Auckland community were consulted over both proposed closures. A number of submissions were received, both from individuals and organisations, showing widespread support for both closures.

Umupuia Beach

Umupuia Beach will be closed to the gathering of cockles for two years under section 186A of the Fisheries Act 1996. This provides statutory support for a traditional closure or rähui over the area put in place by Tangata Whenua in line with traditional customary management practices.

Ngāi Tai Umupuia Te Waka Totara Trust, on behalf of Ngāi Tai and Umupuia Marae, applied for the temporary closure because of concern, amongst both Tangata Whenua and the wider community, over falling numbers of cockles in the Umupuia beds and the large numbers of people gathering cockles on the beach.

Jim Anderton said cockles were an important customary resource for Ngāi Tai and were considered a taonga.

“This closure recognises the deep and enduring connection Ngai Tai has to Umupuia and the importance of maintaining this resource.”

The closure applies to all people and bans the taking of any cockles from Umupuia at any time. The temporary closure may be renewed for a further two-year period upon application by the Tangata Whenua.

Cockle Bay

Cockle Bay will be closed to the gathering of all shellfish from 16 October this year to 30 April 2009 and then each year from 1 October to 30 April the following year (inclusive).


There has been widespread community concern at the large number of people gathering cockles and the amounts that some groups have been taking.


Jim Anderton said fishery officers and honorary fishery officers had observed large crowds gathering cockles, including an estimated 1500 people on the beach on Auckland Anniversary Day. “When catches were inspected by officers, many fishers had significantly exceeded the maximum daily bag limit of 50 cockles per person per day.”


Surveys of the cockle beds carried out by the Chinese Conservation Education Trust confirm a marked and rapid decline in the cockle population at Cockle Bay. These surveys, carried out regularly over a three-year period, show the population at some of the sample sites has been reduced to only a third of its size in 2005.

Although cockles are the main species gathered at Cockle Bay, the seasonal closure applies to all shellfish species including cockles, pipi, mussels, cat’s eyes (pupu), kina and crabs.

During the open season for shellfish gathering, 1 May to 30 September, the existing daily bag limit of 50 cockles per fisher per day will apply.

Signs will be erected at both Cockle Bay and Umupuia Beach to advise people of the closures. Fishery officers and honorary fishery officers will be patrolling and enforcing the closures. Fines of up to a maximum of $100,000 apply to anybody caught breaching these closures.

Further information, including the advice papers from the Ministry of Fisheries and the rules for shellfish gathering in the Auckland area are available on the Ministry of Fisheries website www.fish.govt.nz

ends


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