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Source: Ministry for Primary Industries

Fisheries New Zealand is inviting people to have their say on proposals to ensure the sustainability of rock lobster populations across a number of New Zealand’s fisheries.

The proposals were developed by the National Rock Lobster Management Group (NRLMG), representing tangata whenua, recreational and commercial fishers, New Zealand environmental organisations, New Zealand organisations, and Fisheries New Zealand.

Fisheries New Zealand’s director of fisheries management, Emma Taylor says the NRLMG and Fisheries New Zealand review sustainability measures and management controls annually using the best available scientific information to ensure stocks remain sustainable.

“Rock lobster, also called kōura or crayfish, are important to us all. They are a taonga species for tangata whenua, a popular species amongst recreational fishers, and commercially they are valuable to both regional and export markets.”

There are 2 types of rock lobster in New Zealand — red and packhorse.

“Overall, red rock lobster populations around the country are performing well. For some, projections suggest this could change over the next 4 years, so we are taking a cautious approach by proposing small to medium reductions to catch to ensure these stocks remain sustainable.”

The proposed changes affect the Northland, Gisborne, Wellington, Hawke’s Bay, Canterbury, and Marlborough regions (CRA 1, 3, 4 and 5).

“Similar management measures are working well in the Hauraki Gulf and Bay of Plenty (CRA 2) fishery, which has been under a formal rebuild plan since 2018, with recent information telling us stock levels are increasing in those areas.”

For packhorse lobster, an overall catch limit which includes customary and recreational sectors is proposed for the first time, and a small increase is proposed for the commercial catch limit.

“New science suggests packhorse populations have increased in recent years which means more can be sustainably harvested.”

This consultation forms part of the regular reviews to ensure New Zealand’s fisheries are sustainable and follows last week’s announcement of consultation on proposals for a range of catch limit changes for other fisheries across the country.

“We encourage everyone who has an interest in these fisheries to have their say by putting in a submission via our website.”

The consultation closes on 5 February 2021.