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Luxton Hails Scallop Success

MEDIA RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE USE

13 JULY 1999

Fisheries Minister, Hon John Luxton today applauded the high level of co-operation between the Ministry of Fisheries and stakeholders in building one of the strongest scallop fisheries in the world. A bumper commercial scallop season is forecast for Nelson this year.

"I am heartened by the level of co-operation between interests in this fishery. This is great news for scallop lovers and has huge benefits for the local economy".

The predicted record harvest comes on the heels of last year's excellent season which can be linked to the foresight of the industry and its enhancement techniques.

"I congratulate the efforts of the Challenger Scallop Enhancement Company Ltd, the Challenger Scallop and Dredge Oyster Recreational Advisory Committee, the Top of the South 8-Iwi Fisheries Consultative Committee and the Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society in reaching a high level of consensus over management proposals".

"It is often difficult to strike a balance where conflicting interests compete. The co-operative and co-ordinated approach that has been adopted is significant".

The Minister is due to announce the commencement of the commercial scallop season once he has made final decision on management proposals for the fishery.

"One of the management proposals that has been suggested by industry, is for smaller legal size scallops to be returned to the sea so that they can be left to on-grow. This seems to be a sensible move and I intend to pursue this initiative".

As well as ensuring scallops are available to be harvested each year, a rotational harvesting system has been put in place to ensure sustainability. Rotational fishing ensures that only certain areas are fished in any one year. There are also a range of rules governing the type of dredge that can be used commercially and the amount of time vessels can stay on the beds.

The recreational scallop season begins on Thursday July 15 and runs until 14 February 2000.

The recreational daily limit of 50 scallops per person is the highest for any scallop fishery in the country. Information suggests that recreational fishers will easily reach their daily bag limit in most parts of the fishery. Next year prospects for Queen Charlotte Sound also look good, which is especially pleasing given the low catch levels in recent times.

Like their commercial counterparts, recreational fishers are equally innovative in the scallop fishery. A hydrofoil dredge design is said to be responsible for substantially improving the quality of recreational fishing.

"There is nothing better than the taste of fresh New Zealand scallops. The Nelson scallop fishery is a prime example of good working relationships and sound management techniques which will ensure that we can continue to enjoy this fine seafood," Mr Luxton concluded.

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