Dredging curbs urged

A Blenheim man has called for severe restrictions on the use of dredges by recreation fishermen in Croisilles Harbour to stop scallop beds in the area being wiped out.

However, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Primary Industries said it had feedback that the size and number of scallops at the eastern Tasman Bay harbour were good this year.

He said the small size and light weight of recreational dredges meant their adverse impacts were limited.

Redwoodtown resident Lee Mason said the ecosystem of the seabed was being harmed by constant dredging and he wanted to see a law change banning or limiting their use.

"It is the most destructive way of fishing, it is just not sustainable," he said.

Mr Mason, whose family own a property in the harbour, said during a dive two weekends ago he saw 30 recreational fishing boats dredging the scallop bed in the mouth of the harbour.

"[The harbour] is just so accessible, and it is right between Blenheim and Nelson."

Over time recreational fishermen had become afflicted by ‘small-man syndrome', he said.

"It has got worse. They need the biggest boat and the most scallops but most of the time the scallops are just going into the freezer."

As well as banning or restricting dredges, the scallop season needed to shortened, he said.

"If you had a paddock you would not keep ploughing it year after year."

Mr Mason said even though there had been no commercial fishing in Tasman Bay for some years, scallop stocks had still declined, and that recreational fishermen needed to take some responsibility for that.

"The first thing that recreational people say is that it is the commercial people who are wrecking it, or people with customary fishing rights. They always seem to find an excuse." The scallop season for the top of the south began in July 2012 and ends February 14.

The Marlborough Express