The earthquake destroyed over 20% of the pāua habitat, and given they take up to five years to reach minimum legal size, recovery will take years.
The ban on take of shellfish and seaweed (excluding scampi and rock lobster) along the earthquake-affected coast has been extended indefinitely from 20 November 2017 until research monitoring shows these stocks have recovered sufficiently to allow harvest.
Significant reductions to the total allowable commercial catch limits for Canterbury (PAU 3 – 50% cut) and Marlborough (PAU7 – 10% cut) were also approved by the Minister of Primary Industries to ensure overharvesting of wider pāua stocks does not occur through displaced fishing effort. A judicial review of certain aspects of the PAU7 decision has been sought by the pāua industry, however, ‘shelving’ of quota has been put in place that achieves a similar protection outcome as an interim measure. A review of recreational rules for pāua in these areas is also planned to avoid displacement of effort into popular fishing areas such as Port Underwood.
The rock lobster (crayfish/koura) fishery is faring well and reopened on 20 December 2016. Potential damage and impact to lobster breeding stock and juvenile habitat is being investigated.
Boat access was adversely affected by the seabed lift. The government funding for the Kaikōura harbour restoration and Earthquake Recovery fund is helping fisheries access their fishing grounds.
Fisheries support includes the Earthquake Support Subsidy for businesses and generally-available financial assistance from MSD. More specifically, support includes:
- $360,000 for grants to commercial pāua fishers
- $10,000 as a contribution towards storing safe boat access at Clarence
- $40,000 for community-based support
- $110,000 to support recovery of the pāua population
- One of the Primary Sector Earthquake Recovery Fund projects is for an education programme for pāua enhancement
- $2 million fisheries research programme.