'Promising' results for reseeded paua in Marlborough Sounds

A curious seal keeps an eye on diver Jacob Radon during the paua survey last week.
TOM MCGOWAN

A curious seal keeps an eye on diver Jacob Radon during the paua survey last week.

Video surveys and genetic sampling have been used to monitor the growth of reseeded paua in the Marlborough Sounds.

Divers took to Tory Channel last week to inspect the growth of some of the 150,000 juvenile paua seeded into the waterway in 2012.

The reseeding trial, overseen by commercial stakeholder organisation PauaMAC7, reported promising results with a notable increase to paua biomass in the reseeded sites.

Paua industry scientist Tom McGowan said the potential of reseeding had been a hot topic since the November earthquake hurt paua fisheries on the east coast.

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"The idea of reseeding is to supplement the natural supply of juvenile paua," he said.

Footage from the video survey of reseeded paua in Tory Channel.
TOM MCGOWAN

Footage from the video survey of reseeded paua in Tory Channel.

"It is very much a tool when fisheries need to be rebuilt."

The reseeding involved the growing of juveniles in land-based hatcheries, to approximately 20 millimetres, and then out-planting them to a 5-kilometre stretch of Tory Channel.

Four divers set random lines at both reseeded and control areas to register the number and size of paua last Monday.

Tim McLeod inspects one of the paua reseeding sites while a BlueBridge ferry passes by in Tory Channel.
TOM MCGOWAN

Tim McLeod inspects one of the paua reseeding sites while a BlueBridge ferry passes by in Tory Channel.

Divers also donned video cameras for 10-minute periods to record the visuals of each site, McGowan said.

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"It may not be sound scientifically, but visually it tells a good story," he said.

Data was still being collated from the annual survey but the results had been positive, McGowan said.

"We can say that there's a higher chance that reseeding increases the biomass of paua ... There could be areas of Marlborough fisheries which could use it."

The PauaMAC7 region, which stretches from Kahurangi Point in Golden Bay to the mouth of the Clarence River on the Kaikoura coast, was one of six throughout New Zealand in the middle of paua reseeding trails.

Chairman Barry Chandler said consistent surveys were important to gather information on the reseeding programme.

"We saw a lot of paua, and they have gathered around the artificial reef which is encouraging," he said.

It took on average five years for juvenile paua to grow to the required 125mm standard and the rate of survival was about 35 per cent.

 - The Marlborough Express

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