Paua lovers thumbing their noses

WILMA MCCORKINDALE IN DUNEDIN
Last updated 15:03 03/04/2013
Paua
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A sign outside the Portobello Hall, Dunedin, announces a public meeting in the Paua to the People campaign.

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Paua noses on cars, many calls to Government, and a mass paddle out to coastal paua diving sites are planned to support a campaign opposing commercialisation of paua areas in the south.

The campaign by the Paua to the People group disagrees with a Ministry of Primary Industry proposal to amend regulations restricting access for commercial harvest on Otago Peninsula and other southern coastal areas.

The proposal, outlined in a ministry discussion paper, was sparked by a request from the paua industry.

Paua To The People co-founder, Dunedin recreational paua diver Rhys Bartlett, said last week that the main concern was that opening up previously restricted areas to commercial harvesters would create too much competition for stock.

Ways to protest the move, as well as lodging submissions to the paper, were put forward at a public meeting in Portobello on Thursday night.

"It was just amazing some of the ideas people came up with," he said.

"Some people already had paua noses strapped to the front of their vehicles.

"It's really grassroots kind of community stuff."

Another idea was people contacting Government ministers and politely encouraging them to make the right decisions on the matter.

There was also talk of a paddle-out for divers and boaties within the next week.

"It would preferably be between Cape Saunders and Smaills Beach but would be weather dependent."

The ministry discussion paper said some of the areas proposed to be reopened to commercial fishing could also be highly used by recreational fishers.

It said anecdotal evidence suggested illegal harvesting took place, and thought that might be mitigated by commercial fishermen being able to operate in those areas.

Opening closed areas would allow fishermen to spread where their catch was taken from to reduce fishing pressure, the paper said.

Submissions close on April 19.

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