Scallop fisheries in Northland and Coromandel close after 'alarming' signs of depletion

By Kelvin McDonald
Photo / File

Depleted scallop fisheries in Northland and most of the Coromandel closed on Friday after "alarming" signs scallop beds in the region are in bad shape.

Oceans and fisheries minister David Parker, who announced the closure earlier this week, said scientific findings had backed up concerns raised by iwi.

“Scientific surveys of scallop numbers in the Northland, Hauraki Gulf and Coromandel fisheries have confirmed iwi and community concerns that scallop beds in the region are in bad shape. I share their concerns. The results of the 2021 biomass survey are alarming.”

Parker said strong measures are needed to restore these fisheries.

“My decisions, which come into effect on 1 April, will fully close recreational and commercial scallop fishing in the Northland fishery, and the Hauraki Gulf and Coromandel fishery, apart from two defined areas around Hauturu/Little Barrier Island and near the Colville Channel that will provide for a small level of utilisation.”

The closures follow a 50 per cent cut to the total allowable commercial catch in the Coromandel scallop fishery in 2016, and a 75 per cent reduction in Northland in 2020, Parker said.

He said the scallop fishery in the Nelson-Marlborough region has been closed for years, with reseeding efforts unsuccessful.

Seven other fish stocks will also have their catch limits and settings updated - including hāpuka and bass stocks in Taranaki and parts of the South Island.

They include rock lobster, redbait, and southern blue whiting.

“In addition, hāpuku and bass stocks off the west coast and top of the South Island and Taranaki will have catch limits and allowances set for the first time, and I have agreed to change recreational controls for these stocks,” Parker said.

Summary of changes:

  • Scallops, Northland (SCA1) – full closure.
  • Scallops, Coromandel (SCA CS) – Partial closure – all areas of SCA CS will be closed apart from two defined areas around Hauturu/Little Barrier Island and near the Colville Channel that will provide for a small level of utilisation.
  • Rock lobster, Northland (CRA 1) – decrease total allowable catch
  • Rock lobster, Otago and Southland (CRA 7, and 8) – increase total allowable catch
  • Hāpuku and bass, West Coast and top of the South Island, and Taranaki (HPB 7 & 8) – set total allowable catch and allowances, decrease total allowable commercial catch
  • Redbait, West Coast South Island and west coast North Island (RBT 7) – decrease total allowable catch
  • Southern blue whiting, Bounty platform (SBW 6B) – decrease total allowable catch