The east Coromandel scallop fishery will close for two years from this Saturday following a request from the Ngāti Hei Trust.
The closure covers scallop fishing in an area extending along the east Coromandel coastline from Anarake Point to Ruahiwihiwi Point, where Ngāti Hei exercise mana moana, and includes Opito Bay. Other fishing in the area can continue under existing rules.
Fisheries management director Emma Taylor says public consultation on the request took place between April and May. More than 2000 submissions were received, with the majority supporting a closure.
“The feedback from tangata whenua and the public reflects the results of recent scientific surveys, commissioned by Fisheries New Zealand. These highlight concerns over the sustainability of scallop stocks right across the northern scallop fisheries, including the east Coromandel area," she says.
“While addressing fishing activity is part of the picture, we also know that scallops are affected by land-based impacts such as sedimentation, and by changes to water quality.”
Taylor says the closure will relieve some of the pressure while work continues by central and local government to address fishing and non-fishing related impacts.
“A large part of Opito Bay was already closed to commercial scallop harvesting, on top of seasonal restrictions for both recreational and commercial fishing.
“The new closure area is much larger and applies to both recreational and commercial scallop fishing. This will support scallop populations, across a larger area of the coastline and is part of the overall scallop management picture that Fisheries New Zealand is currently considering.”
The closure follows a customary rāhui placed by Ngāti Hei on the Opito Bay area in December, to take pressure off the scallop fishery.
“Customary management tools and temporary closures such as rāhui, provide an important mechanism to support the protection of our fisheries resources.”
The closure will be legally enforceable from Saturday. MPI fishery officers will continue to patrol the coast supporting public awareness and enforcing the rules.