Scallop spawning stocks review

CATHIE BELL
Last updated 07:29 07/03/2014
scallops
COLIN SMITH/FAIRFAX NZ
DWINDLING: Nelson scallops at Guyton's fresh fish shop.

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Scallop stocks at the top of the South Island are the lowest since surveys began, the Ministry for Primary Industries says.

In a document published last month with a letter asking for public input into scallop fishery management in the Challenger area covering the top of the South Island, the ministry said stocks were at a historic low in Golden and Tasman bays, and while relatively stable in the Marlborough Sounds, these had also declined since 2009.

The document said scallop stocks had declined in Golden and Tasman bays to the extent that these areas were not commercially fished.

The ministry therefore proposed to set a total allowable catch and total allowable commercial catch based on sustainable yield estimates from stock surveys within the Marlborough Sounds.

This option, referred to as Option 2, provided better protection of the spawning stocks at the top of the South Island.

"The current total allowable commercial catch has not been caught for 10 years, and is likely to be unobtainable given current estimates. Similarly, it does not meet the objective within the draft National Fisheries Plan for Inshore Shellfish of protecting the spawning stock as well as Option 2 as it does not constrain catch appropriately."

The document said the ministry's initial view was that this option was more sustainable.

"Option 2 reflects the recent poor performance of the fishery, and better meets the objective within the draft fisheries plan of protecting the spawning stock by limiting catch to recent low levels, until the fishery rebuilds."

The ministry is to report to Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy who will decide catch levels by April 1, the start of the fishing year.

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- The Marlborough Express

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