Tourists tak­ing six crays a day

Marlborough Express - - NEWS - JEF­FREY KITT

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.

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