Checking crayfish pots to ensure sustainable fishing

By Te Kuru o te Marama Dewes

Fisheries officers are encouraging people who fish to check the regulations for crayfish pots.  MPI chief fisheries officer in Te Tairāwhiti, Richard Ratapu says they confiscate 10 crayfish pots a month on average because they aren't in line with regulations.

For a recreational cray pot, a 140mm by 54mm escape hatch is required on both sides.

"The smaller crayfish can get out of the escape hatches, that's the main thing is the escape hatches, if they're small the pots will catch everything," says fisheries officer Willie Waitoa, “...and for a commercial they can have a little bit bigger, that's usually a 200mm by 54mm.”

Today's standard check on a commercial fishing vessel found everything in order.

Waitoa says, “I was just checking the escape gaps were right on those commercial fishing pots, also watching them measure fish and return undersized fish.  On that boat today it seemed like everything was going well.”

MPI fisheries officer Jordan Cooper says the regulations are aligned with sustainable fishing.

“A whole part of us getting on board, looking at his paperwork, someone looking at the amount of crayfish that he has on board, also the gear that he has, that it is all within the regulations, is part of making sure that our fisheries are sustainable,” says Cooper.

Ratapu says that recreational fishers of crayfish need to check that pots meet the regulations.

 “Go and buy the crayfish pot from the right place.  Don't just make it yourself and put things over it to cover the escape hatches”, says Ratapu.

Waitoa says, “What the regulation says is that you have to have a name and an initial on the pot, it's voluntary to put a phone number on...if we do have a phone number on the pot we'll generally give them a ring.”

The regulations for crayfish pots are available online at Fisheries New Zealand.