New Zealand / Conservation

Catch limit for pāua in central and lower North Island halved

07:06 am on 3 September 2023

There have been widespread concerns about low stocks of pāua in a number of regions. Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

The daily pāua catch limit will halve for the central and lower North Island from Monday after concerns were raised about low stocks.

The limit will drop from 10 to five of each pāua species, per fisher.

Fisheries New Zealand consulted the public on the issue earlier this year, and there was strong support for reducing the limits from recreational fishers, local communities and tangata whenua - including the Mai Paritu tae atu ki Turakirae Fisheries Forum, representing iwi and hapū from Gisborne to South Wairarapa.

Fisheries management director Emma Taylor said submitters were worried pāua stocks were low.

"Customary and recreational fishers have reported localised depletion, particularly in easily accessible areas which are expected to have higher levels of recreational fishing during the summer months."

That echoed concerns from Taranaki hapū, which led to a two-year temporary ban on pāua harvesting along the Taranaki coast from December last year.

Cyclones Hale and Gabrielle probably played a part in that due to the build up of sediment in some areas of Te Tai Rāwhiti, Taylor said.

"What we see is increased sedimentation, which can be caused by cyclones, and it can really have an impact on local paua populations."

Heavy rain in such severe storms could flush mud and sediment into coastal waters, where it then settled and smothered marine life.

Taylor said the limit reduction would have a positive impact.

"We'll be looking closely to see the impact that continuous fishing has on the paua stocks over the next few years."

Taylor said the measures also ensured pāua could be enjoyed by future generations.

For the first time, a regional total allowable catch limit will also be in place, capped at 192.188 tonnes from all sources - commercial, recreational, and customary.