'Our part of the ocean ... is relatively unchanged'

6:03 am on 21 December 2016

With the ban on catching crayfish now lifted, one Kaikōura fisherman says not much has really changed in the fishery.

Paul Reinke rock lobster fisherman

Paul Reinke was one of the first on the water after the ban was lifted. Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

After a review by the Ministry for Primary Industries found crayfish stocks were not severely depleted, it lifted the ban at 5pm yesterday.

Paul Reinke, who helped with the review, was the first fisher out on the water yesterday evening.

The seabed on the coast of Kaikōura has risen metres out of the ocean.

Parts of the Kaikōura seabed were lifted metres out of the water by the earthquake. Photo: Screenshot / GeoNet

He said in terms of the sealife, things had not greatly changed.

"Our part of the ocean, where we fish in South Bay, is relatively unchanged," he said.

"There are still heaps and heaps of Hector's and Dusky dolphins, plenty of seals and albatrosses and other bird life."

Much of the seabed has risen in places, prompting the government to announce it would do remediation work on the harbour over the next few months.

"The quake was a once in a lifetime experience, and it may seem funny to say, but we're quite lucky to have been able to witness it," Mr Reinke said.

Paul Reinke rock lobster fisherman

Paul Reinke Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

"But we're going to be continually learning, from a fishing perspective, and it will be quite challenging.

"There will be new rocks here and there and changes to the seabed and even the entrance to the harbour could be difficult if we get a roll for instance - we don't know exactly what it will throw at us."

He still has to catch about 1800kg of crayfish to meet his quota with Ngāi Tahu, and is hoping to do so before the most significant remediation work gets under way.

Mystique II used by Paul Reinke.

Mr Reinke's boat, the Mystique II, anchored in Kaikōura. Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

He said he could not speak for stocks of shellfish such as pāua - a ban on gathering them was expected to remain in place until February, and the government has warned it could be extended.

"Generally speaking, the local fishers are very happy with the idea of a closure for us to assess what has happened to their fishery - which they value," the Ministry's regional fishery manager Howard Reid said.

The government warned people not to catch more than they needed, and said it would send extra compliance officers to the area to monitor people.

Recreational fishers will have a daily bag limit of six crayfish.