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Crayfish regulations wanted for Kaikōura fishing charters

A local conservationist has submitted a proposal to the government to stop the depletion of the crayfish population in Kaikōura.

Larnce Wichman wants to establish an agreement with the Ministry for Primary Industries to better manage the gathering of the delicacy.

Wichman says, "We don't have an issue with the charter operators actually going out there and fishing and providing a service with the recreational fisher or even that case for tourists. Where our concerns lie, is that there's no management within that area of amateur fishing because they run under the amateur regulations."

Under the proposal Wichman wants no new fishing charter vessels working out of Kaikōura, until new regulations are put in place for Kōura (Crayfish) stocks in the area.

"There should be a cap and everything put on hold until we've really worked this out."

Wichman is an executive officer of CRA 5 (Canterbury Marlborough Commercial Rock Lobster Stakeholder Group) and is responsible for managing Kōura populations in Kaikōura.

"Our concerns have been raised since say four or five years ago when they (fishing charters) started reporting their catch lobster. Four years ago they were catching around about 5,200 lobsters, the following year 8,800, two years ago 13,500 and last year 18,800."

In a statement to Te Kāea, Kaikōura Charter Fishers Association Incorporated says operators have been struggling with low numbers and it is disappointing for them to be targeted after the November Earthquakes.

"We are the only sector in the industry to voluntarily reduce take from the ocean, including, but not limited to; Groper, Bluenosee, Blue Cod, and Crayfish, and we have been actively involved in research, and recording, of the state of the fisheries."

While the limit for one person is six crayfish per person, KCFAI says they are actively encouraging their recreational fishers to limit their take, and 'fish for a feed', with a large focus on one cray or less per person.

KCFAI also says they already work to a Code of Practice and have been working with the Ministry for Primary Industries and Te Korowai O Te Tai O Marokura (Kaikōura Coastal Marine Guardians) to maintain a sustainable fishery for all.