The Green Party supports the Government’s move to close temporarily shellfish and seaweed fisheries on the east coast of the South Island in the wake of last week’s Kaikōura earthquakes.
“Closing the crayfish fishery for a month and paua and other shell fisheries for three months to investigate the impacts of the earthquake on them is sensible,” said Green Party primary industries spokesperson Eugenie Sage.
“A one month temporary closure, however, is not nearly enough time for crayfish and paua to breed and for stocks to rebuild if the earthquakes have caused significant mortality of crayfish, paua and other species and the dramatic uplift of the coast has reduced the habitat they need to thrive.
“It would be unfortunate if the drive to re-open the crayfish fishery to take advantage of the coming Christmas period and the Chinese New Year undermined its long-term sustainability. In the long run, keeping the paua and crayfish fisheries closed so that stocks can recover is likely to make better sense than hurrying to re-open them.
“The Minister needs to be open to extending the closure period if investigations show that significant mortality and habitat loss and damage has occurred.
“A $2 million grant to investigate the impacts of the quakes on crayfish, paua and other shellfish and seaweed fisheries is a start. Additional funding is also needed to better understand the impacts of the earthquakes on the wider marine environment, not just fisheries.
“The Government should provide additional funding for NIWA and the Department of Conservation to properly research, map, and understand the changes to the seabed, marine habitats, marine life and their effects.
“Kaikōura’s coast and marine environment are hugely important for whale watching and nature-based tourism, not just for commercial and recreational fishing,” said Ms Sage.