Protecting post-quake waters together
Fishing charter boats have banded together to call for all sectors and fisheries to monitor their takes in the waters of postquake Kaikoura.
The message comes after visitors on recreational quota limits were blamed for putting extra pressure on the crayfish industry, the bulk of who use charter boats to collect their catch. Marlborough fisherman Larnce Wichman warned last month the fishery could be in jeopardy within two years if tighter controls were not put on tourists, who were entitled to take six crayfish per day.
Kaikoura Charter Fishers Association Incorporated secretary Adam ‘Tommo’ Thomson said it was not only charter boats who were catching crays.
The six charter boats which comprised the association were each committed to the fishery’s sustainability by making visitors take one crayfish instead of the entitled six, Thomson said.
‘‘We play by the rules because we know the importance of it ... We are about fishing sustainably rather than raping and pillaging,’’ he said.
‘‘I want to be in this for a while. I’ve got a wee fella and want him to be able to do this as well if he wants to. It is disappointing that we are being targeted at a time when due to the November earth- quake times are already tough.’’
Charter boats were simply taking recreational fishers recreational fishing, Thomson said.
The maximum boat in Kaikoura’s fleet could take 16 people, a far cry from boats which were reported to take 50 at a time, Thomson added.
A temporary emergency closure on crayfish along the quakehit coast was put in place by the Ministry for Primary Industries a week after the 7.8-magnitude earthquake to assess the fishery.
It was lifted in December when surveys of the rock lobster fishery found the population in ‘‘relatively good shape’’.
There was no doubt November’s earthquake had affected stock numbers, and Thomson reiterated that it was important for all fishers to be working together for future generations.
‘‘It is under pressure and something needs to be done. But people need to stop pointing the finger and look at their own camp,’’ he said. ’’Everyone really just needs to think of the practices they engage in.’’
A Ministry for Primary Industries spokesman said in June customary, recreational and commercial fishers had raised concerns about the expansion of the charter fleet in Kaikoura.
‘‘We are investigating the situation and intend to work with the Kaikoura Coastal Marine Guardians, the amateur charter fleet and the local community in the coming months to understand their concerns and whether any specific fisheries management actions are required and, if so, what might be required,’’ he said.
All sectors have to work together to protect the post-quake waters of Kaikoura, a charter fishing boat group says.