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Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has announced changes to commercial fishing limits for rock lobster (crayfish) and southern blue whiting in five areas as part of the annual fisheries sustainability review.

The changes are:

Rock lobster fishery in the Gisborne region (called CRA3) will see a reduction in commercial catch limit of 23 tonnes. In the Wellington and Hawkes Bay region (called CRA4) there will be a reduction in commercial catch limit of 108 tonnes. The CRA7 (Otago) rock lobster fishery will see a rise in the commercial catch limit by 15 tonnes.

All recreational and customary allowances in these fisheries will remain the same.

“The changes in rock lobster limits comes after feedback from tangata whenua and other fishery interests, and final advice from the National Rock Lobster Management Group (NRLMG) on a range of options for these important shared fisheries,” says Mr Guy.

“For CRA3, the latest scientific research shows that biomass has decreased but remains above the agreed sustainability level. To ensure this remains the case a reduction in commercial catch will ensure that the fishery remains sustainable in the long term for the benefit of all fishers.

“In CRA4 a recent scientific study identified that the fishery was below the agreed target level and so proposals were consulted on to reduce commercial catch to an appropriate level.

“For CRA7 the latest information indicated no sustainability concerns and so I’m confident an increase in commercial catch of 15 tonnes can easily be sustained.

“These decisions are based on the best possible scientific information and show the effectiveness of the Quota Management System (QMS). It is flexible and responsive to change, and where a stock such as CRA4 is below expected levels then MPI acts to protect it.

“Regular monitoring and amendments to catch limits are key parts of our fisheries management system. They are informed by science and ensure we have a flexible and responsive system.”

For southern blue whiting around New Zealand (SBW 1) the commercial catch limit will be increased by 90 tonnes and for SBW 6B – known as the Bounty Platform – the commercial catch limit will be reduced by 563 tonnes (from 2940 to 2377 tonnes).

As these are both deepwater fisheries there are no allowances for customary or recreational fishing.

“SBW1 has had a nominal catch limit in place since it was introduced into the QMS in 1999. This increase announced today is based on current scientific information which better reflects available abundance. For SBW 6B, a key area of southern blue whiting catch, this change is in response to natural variations in the stock and will ensure the fishery remains sustainable.” 

These decisions come into effect on 1 April 2017. More detailed information can be found at http://www.mpi.govt.nz/news-and-resources/consultations/review-of-rock-lobster-sustainability-measures-for-1-april-2017/ and http://www.mpi.govt.nz/news-and-resources/consultations/review-of-southern-blue-whiting-sustainability-measures-for-1-april-2017/

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