22 Jun 2017

Kaikōura fishery could be closed for up to a decade

6:58 pm on 22 June 2017

Kaikōura and Marlborough's quake-damaged fisheries industry may take up to a decade to recover, a south Marlborough fisherman says.

A pile of paua on the beach.

Kaikōura's shellfish stock was depleted when part of the seabed was lifted out of the water as a result of the November quake. Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

The Ministry for Primary Industries has started a series of public meetings on a proposal to set new closure terms for the area, when the current emergency closure expires in November.

The closure relates to all shellfish and seaweed, but excludes rock lobster and scampi.

The ministry does not think the stock will be recovered by November.

Dennis Burkhart, who co-owns the Ward-based Burkhart Fisheries, supported continued closure on new terms to protect the fishery long term, which he said could take between seven and 10 years to come right.

He said it would be up to all who used it, from commercial to recreational fishers.

"It's more of a responsibility-type thing, and an attitude that has to change. It's a bit like the speed limit - it's not a target, it's a rule and you drive to the conditions ...or you're meant to.

"It's the same with the nation's (natural) resources and assets. The need to be managed in a timely way."

Mr Burkhart said full recovery could take up to a decade.

"The worst scenario at the moment ... anecdotal evidence suggests it could be 10 years, it could be more. Could be less, but I think we need to get our mindset for the worst, really."

Mr Burkhart said it was not just species of fish affected, but the biomass that supports their survival.

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