Articles / 4 February 2018

Crayfish Crisis: TAKE ACTION

Crayfish may not be everyone’s target species and they’re not particularly attractive compared to a snapper, yet we all benefit from having them in the water doing what they do best. Crayfish are great scavengers, cleaning up reefs and feeding on sea urchins (kina), if they are big enough.

Currently, the crayfish stock on the North Island’s northeast coast (CRA2) is at an all time low and management action is now mandatory. MPI has released potential management options for several crayfish stocks including CRA2. Submissions are due with MPI by 9 February.

We are submitting and LegaSea needs your feedback ASAP. Please learn more and TAKE ACTION.

Last year when we surveyed people’s views on the state of CRA2, between Te Arai in the north and East Cape, we received some heartfelt responses. People told us the stock was in a bad way, the worst it had ever been, and there were increasing numbers of commercial pots in many places. Fifty five percent of respondents had over 20 year’s diving experience so they had witnessed the decline over a long period.

People also offered their support for management changes to commercial and recreational fishing to help rebuild crayfish abundance. Altogether this feedback was effective in bringing forward this current review of how crayfish is managed in parts of Northland, the Hauraki Gulf and Bay of Plenty. Thanks if you were one of those respondents.

Due to this widespread concern our fisheries team spent much of 2017 participating in the science and management processes, as a prelude to the current review. This team consists of the New Zealand Sport Fishing Council’s Fisheries Management Sub-committtee and its experienced contractors. They are collating all the relevant information to include in a submission, and developing recommendations that are workable and conservative enough to rebuild crayfish abundance.

Our concern is that there is a strong push from commercial interests for the Minister to make the smallest cut possible so they can continue to export crayfish, leaving no guarantee the stock will rebuild to natural levels and once again fulfil their role in the ecosystem.

This will be Stuart Nash’s first major stock management decision since becoming Minister of Fisheries last year. Collectively we need to encourage him to be bold enough to make a precautionary decision so the numbers and size of crayfish in the water is replenished.

UPDATE: A joint recreational submission has been sent to MPI. Read the crayfish submission here.

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