Pāua fishing prohibition recommended by committee

Mana whenua and local stakeholders are calling upon the Minister of Fisheries to approve an open-ended, but temporary, prohibition on recreational and commercial fishing of pāua from reefs adjacent to Ōnuku Marae in Akaroa.

The Akaroa Taiāpure Management Committee is recommending closure to prohibit the taking of pāua from the Ōnuku area by recreational and commercial fishers.

Ōnuku Rūnanga Chair Rik Tainui says: “The pāua and other kaimoana on the reefs next to Ōnuku Marae were once abundant and were a significant resource for people who were fishing for a feed and to sustain the functions of the marae. We know from local knowledge that the fish stocks are nowhere near as plentiful and accessible as they once were.”

The committee is made up of representatives from Ōnuku Rūnanga, Wairewa Rūnanga, and Te Rūnanga o Koukourarata, as well as recreational and commercial fishers, marine farmers, and tourism operators.

“We regularly see families coming to these reefs in front of the marae and taking large quantities of pāua. It’s clear this is not sustainable in the long-run,” Rik says.

The closure will allow this depleted population to replenish. The committee will work with research providers to monitor the recovery.

“It’s critical our hapū have kaimoana to sustain the many cultural functions of the marae, as well as supply hapū members with a food source.

“We are suggesting this measure for the good of the whole community. We need to ensure the Akaroa fishery’s formerly abundant levels are restored so people can once again come and catch a kai, otherwise we’re all going to lose out.”

Rik says the committee has not suggested an end date for the closure at this time.

“Pāua have a slow recovery rate, so we are requesting that the proposed closure be open-ended and only lifted once we know a sufficient recovery has been achieved. The closure will protect juvenile pāua that are critical to the long-term sustainability of the fishery on the reefs.”

Fisheries New Zealand is due to start formal consultation on the proposal on Monday 8 March.