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New Minimum Legal Size For Paua In Taranaki


30 September 2009

New Minimum Legal Size For Paua In Taranaki From Tomorrow

The Ministry of Fisheries is reminding paua divers that a new minimum legal size of 85mm in shell length comes into effect tomorrow (1 October 2009) for the Taranaki region.

Taranaki paua are naturally small or ‘stunted’ and never reach the minimum legal size of 125mm for paua across the rest of New Zealand, maturing and breeding at a much smaller size.

The new size will be a trial basis for the next five years and will mean recreational fishers can gather paua at the new minimum legal size of 85mm in shell length from between the Awakino and Wanganui rivers. This includes most paua beds within the Taranaki region.

A trial period is necessary as the measures have never been applied before in New Zealand’s paua fisheries.

A daily bag limit of 10 paua per fisher per day will apply.

“The current information we have indicates there is a sustainable paua fishery in Taranaki but the paua are naturally small” said Ministry of Fisheries Inshore Fishery Manager Leigh Mitchell.
“We need Taranaki paua fishers to play their part and follow the rules so there will be paua to catch in years to come” she said.

Ms Mitchell also reminded people intending to catch paua under the new minimum legal size that there is now a limit on how many paua they can accumulate. This limit is 20 individual paua (2 daily bag limits) or 2.5 kgs of shucked paua meat. Paua divers can still only take 10 paua per person per day; the accumulation limit applies to storing the paua they have gathered, for example in their home freezer.

“Improving access to fisheries while respecting environmental limits is the type of management the Ministry of Fisheries is pursuing as part of Fisheries 2030, the Government’s 20 year goal and action plan for the fisheries sector” Ms Mitchell said.

The ability to take paua at the smaller size of 85mm shell length is restricted to the Taranaki Amateur Paua Fishery Area. It is illegal to take or possess paua below the Minimum Legal Size of 125mm in shell length outside this area.

A map of the Taranaki Amateur Paua Fishery Area is available on the Ministry of Fisheries website.
Background
A scientific study conducted by the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) on the Taranaki paua fishery has shown that Taranaki paua are naturally small.

This means they generally only reach a maximum size of about 90-100mm shell length rather than the national Minimum Legal Size of 125mm.

While stunted paua populations also occur in many other areas in the country, it is not well understood why they form in some areas and not in others. However, it is believed that it is a combination of genetic and environmental factors that cause some paua not to grow to a large size.

Small paua are abundant throughout the Taranaki region and can be harvested with relative ease (particularly during extremely low ‘king tides’ that occur every 1-2 months).

The Ministry of Fisheries plans to commission a further study on the Taranaki paua fishery in 4-5 years time to evaluate the impacts of recreational fishing.

ENDS

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