Scheme keeps tabs on crayfish
A pilot scheme to monitor crayfish from the boat to the plate has been welcomed by all sectors involved, from fishermen to restaurants.
The three-month programme, the first of its kind, is being trialled in Kaikoura this summer.
It is a joint venture between the rock lobster industry and the Ministry for Primary Industries.
Eleven fishery officers spent last week in Kaikoura visiting all retail outlets, from restaurants and cafes to mobile shops, tagging every single crayfish for sale in the district.
Kaikoura officer Howard Reid said the tagging, effectively a comprehensive stocktake, had been a big task, with about 1500 crays having been individually tagged with the plastic barcode.
From now on, Mr Reid said every crayfish coming in would be tagged by the supplier before it is passed on to a shop or food outlet, which will mean the responsibility for tagging will be on the licensed fish receiver.
There are benefits to this system, says Mr Reid, and he is pleased to report that feedback has been 100 per cent positive.
It will now be up to the fishery officers to continue to be vigilant to ensure the success of the programme.
"We already have the responsibility to monitor commercial activity from the vessel to the table," he said. "This will hopefully make things easier for us, but we will really need to keep up our inspection routine - you can expect to see more of us this summer."
Mr Reid said Kaikoura was the ideal place to trial such a scheme as there was an abundant supply of crayfish and therefore potential for black-market activity.
"With this, it should almost entirely eliminate that avenue of black-market sales."
Cramac5 spokesman Larnce Wichman said the benefits of the pilot scheme were two-fold.
The tag on the crayfish would show that it was caught sustainably and was of good quality.
Secondly, it could be used as a compliance tool, meaning a full auditing system from vessel to plate.
He said Cramac5 had been in discussion about possible ways to achieve this, and he was pleased with the joint venture.
If it proved successful over the next three months, he hoped it would then continue and possibly be rolled out on a national level.
He had already had requests from across the board for this to happen, he said.
Mr Wichman, also chairman of coastal guardian group Te Korowai o Te Tai o Marokura, said the pilot programme had the full endorsement of Te Korowai.
The crayfish market is a huge aspect of trading in Kaikoura over the coming three-month period.
The pilot will be reviewed in early February and its viability and continuation addressed then.