Tourists taking six crays a day
Kaikoura is synonymous with crayfish, but one fisherman warns the partnership could be in jeopardy within two years if tighter controls are not put on tourists.
Marlborough fisherman Larnce Wichman says the fishery is being put under pressure by visitors who come through and fish on recreational quota limits.
The bulk of these visitors use charter boats to collect their catch, businesses which offer the experience for tourists to pull up their very own crayfish pots and take home the contents.
Each visitor is allowed six crayfish a day, with larger boats capable of taking more than 50 people at a time.
The result was a sizeable strain on the local fishery with boats venturing further out from shore to catch their crays, Wichman said.
‘‘It has been an escalating problem and it is still escalating,’’ he said.
‘‘When you see the signals, you need to look at it before it becomes a deep problem.
‘‘We’re not saying the charters need to get out or anything like that, but it just needs some common sense.’’
A temporary emergency closure on crayfish along the quake-hit 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’’.
Wichman, who was the executive officer of CRAMAC5, said tourists were bound by recreational quota limits but there was no cap on the daily number of visitors who headed out for crayfish.
Some restrictions on tourist catches would be needed if the fish- ery was to Wichman said.
‘‘It is becoming past the point that this needs to be addressed,’’ he said.
‘‘The industry is great for the community and the town, but let’s not break it.’’
Wichman was also the chairman of Te Korowai o Te Tai o Marokura, a group which comprised multiple marine businesses and organisations in Kaikoura.
Charter boats were members of the group and the majority had been sensible about crayfish takes, Wichman said.
Seamist Fishing Charter owner Peter Cleall took customers aboard The Seafarer II, a 15-metre commercial charter and fishing boat in Kaikoura.
The majority of charter boats were environmentally-minded and it was frustrating when they were named as negatively impacting the fishery, Cleall said.
‘‘We are trying to help the fishery and make it sustainable by encouraging our customers to only take one crayfish,’’ he said.
‘‘At the end of the day it is no different from 10 recreational boats going out.
‘‘I’ve been here for 30 years and I’ve seen bad years and good years, but it just has to stay sustainable.’’
Better data on crayfish numbers was needed before decisions on tighter catches were made, Cleall said.
A ministry spokesman said concerns had been heard from customary, recreational and commercial fishers 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. remain viable,
Harvest Life Church elder John Etheredge outside the Nelson St church after it was burgled.
A fisherman says the crayfish population is under pressure by visitors.