Pro­tect­ing post-quake waters to­gether

Marlborough Express - The Saturday Express, Marlborough - - OUT & ABOUT - JEF­FREY KITT

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.

PHOTO: STUFF

All sec­tors have to work to­gether to pro­tect the post-quake waters of Kaik­oura, a char­ter fish­ing boat group says.

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