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Recreational Pāua Fishing Season Opens In Kaikōura This Weekend

The recreational pāua fishing season opens in Kaikōura this weekend (Saturday, April 15, for two months), with new rules and daily catch limits to support sustainability.

The fishery was closed in 2016 to recover from the effects of a significant earthquake that devastated the coastline, says Fisheries New Zealand regional compliance manager Howard Reid.

“The fishery recovered well, but we need to exercise caution to ensure there are enough pāua in the water for current and future generations.”

This season the area from Marfells Beach to Conway River will be open for people to gather up to a daily limit of three ordinary blackfoot pāua and three yellow foot pāua per gatherer per day. The minimum size for black foot pāua is 125mm and for yellowfoot pāua it is 80mm.

Within the Oaro-Haumuri Taiāpure on the coast south of Kaikoura the daily limit is reduced to two blackfoot pāua with a larger minimum size of 135mm, people can also take only two yellowfoot pāua from this area with a minimum size of 80mm.

Fishers actively gathering pāua can take their daily limit only. A person cannot take a daily limit on behalf of another person or top up the catch of someone else. Fishery Officers will be strictly enforcing this rule.

“We know people are excited about the season and we remind all pāua gatherers to stick to the rules – that way you’ll be doing your part in protecting the resource and ensuring it is sustainable into the future.

"The fishery is critically important to tangata whenua and the local community, so we are taking a precautionary approach by reducing catch limits.

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“The opening is deliberately timed for the off-peak part of the year, reflecting the strong feedback we received during consultation.”

People should take care when handling pāua, Mr Reid says.

“We’d advise using a Fisheries New Zealand pāua knife to carefully take them off the rocks. Pāua are easily damaged and using this tool and returning undersize pāua carefully, helps ensure their survival.

“Our Fishery Officers will be on patrol throughout the season, and they’ll be inspecting your catch. You may not see us every time you fish for pāua, but you can be assured that we will be keeping a close watch on all pāua harvesting along our coast," says Mr Reid.

Meanwhile, an intensive survey will also be carried out to provide important information about fishers’ catch and effort. This information, as well as in-water surveys of the pāua stocks, will help determine what the future of the fishery might look like including what further measures are needed to keep the pāua healthy and thriving.

The two-month recreational season ends on June 15.

“How we treat this season will be considered for future seasons. If you’re unsure of any rules, ask a Fishery Officer or download the fishing rules app which works even if you’re outside a coverage area. If we all fish responsibly, the resource will hopefully be sustainable into the future,” says Mr Reid.

When gathering pāua over two or more days, the maximum amount of pāua you can possess is two daily limits, including at home.

A daily limit only applies to the person actively involved in gathering pāua from the sea. You are not entitled to gather pāua for another person who is not involved in fishing.

Fisheries New Zealand is also reminding all fishers that you cannot harvest pāua from the Hikurangi Marine Reserve and from the Waiopuka Reef area. Additionally, there are four customary fisheries management areas where pāua fishing is prohibited.

  • Mangamaunu Mātaitai Reserve
  • Oaro Mātaitai Reserve
  • Te Waha o te Marangai Mātaitai Reserve
  • Te Taumanu o Te Waka a Māui Taiāpure

Further information, including rules for other fish species, is available on MPI’s website or by downloading the free NZ Fishing Rules app.

Fisheries New Zealand encourages people to report suspected illegal activity through the Ministry's 0800 4 POACHER number (0800 47 62 24).

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