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Tai Tokerau – Depleted scallop beds in Northland and most of the Coromandel are to be closed on Friday, to allow them to recover.

The closures are part of the twice-yearly review of a selection of fish stocks to support their sustainability.

The scallop fishery in the Nelson-Marlborough region has been closed for years. Reseeding efforts have been unsuccessful.

Scientific surveys of scallop numbers in the Northland, Hauraki Gulf and Coromandel fisheries have confirmed iwi and community concerns that scallop beds in the region are in bad shape. The results of the 2021 biomass survey are alarming.

Many fishers in these areas have reported it is becoming harder to find scallops.

Removing fishing pressure is an important and immediate measure that can contribute to their ongoing sustainability. It is the responsible action to take.

A number of factors are contributing to the continued serious decline in scallop numbers including sedimentation, dredging and the use of GPS technology to locate and exploit scallop beds.

Strong measures are needed to restore these important shared fisheries which may impact on recreational and commercial scallop fishing but the marine life around Aotearoa is vital for the long term future.

The closures also affect the Hauraki Gulf but not from two defined areas around Hauturu (Little Barrier) Island and near the Colville Channel that will provide for a small level of utilisation.

The closures follow a 50 per cent cut to the total allowable commercial catch (TACC) in the Coromandel scallop fishery in 2016. The TACC for the Northland scallop fishery was reduced by 75 per cent in 2020.

In the six-monthly reviews, stocks are prioritised for review focussing on the species that are important to iwi, commercial and recreational fishers, and local communities.

Seven other fish stocks will have catch limits and settings updated. They include rock lobster, redbait, and southern blue whiting.

Hāpuku and bass stocks off the west coast and top of the South Island and Taranaki will have catch limits and allowances set for the first time.