Whitebait would still be accessible to the public, a forum on the proposed mataitai reservations along the Timaru coast was told on Saturday night.
The public forum at the Arowhenua Marae was part of the process the runanga must follow in its bid to create two traditional fishing grounds (mataitai reservations) along Timaru coastal waters.
About 20 people attended the forum, including some local anglers who were concerned about their own access if the areas were established for the purpose of customary food gathering. One concern came from a whitebaiter who was assured the activity would not be affected.
Kaimoana (food of the sea) has been sourced by Ngai Tahu traditionally for centuries. When gathering from a reserve the fish cannot be traded, exchanged for money or any form of payment accepted.
Chairman of Arowhenua runanga and mataitai reserve committee John Henry said the depletion of seafood stocks was the catalyst for the application. "We want to enhance stocks," he said.
He would like to see people who used the reef areas for food to support the reservations proposals.
"There are no other areas [except here] between Banks Peninsula and Oamaru where paua and mussels can be found on a reef," Henry said.
Submissions must be made by Wednesday, July 23 to the Ministry of Primary Industries.
It is up to the minister of fisheries to grant the reserves, dependent on them meeting certain criteria which include management plans and non-commercial use.
Bylaws can also be put in place to control fishing.
Arowhenua runanga has applied for mataitai reservations (traditional fishing ground) over two areas of fisheries waters in Timaru. They are from Washdyke Lagoon to Caroline Bay (more than 1.5 square kilometres) and 5 sq km from 500 metres north of Scarborough Rd to Lagoon Dr.
- The Timaru Herald