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Paua Data Logging to Create More Sustainable Fishery

12 September 2013

NEW ZEALAND - Commercial p?ua diving is entering the electronic age with logging of every shellfish taken. When the new season opens on 1 October, every diver in the P?ua 2 fishery will be wearing a data logger that will record each captured p?ua’s location, depth, weight and the water temperature.

The small electronic boxes strapped to wetsuits unload their data on the supporting dive boat, which will provide a reef by reef picture of what is happening in the fishery.

“This will allow us to spread the catch effort, ensure an area is not over exploited and better manage a sustainable fishery,” Tony Craig, P?ua 2 Management Group chairman, said.

The P?ua 2 fishery extends from East Cape to Taranaki, although commercial diving is restricted to the coastal area from Blackhead, east of Waipukurau, to Turakirae Head on Wellington’s south coast on the edge of Palliser Bay.

The comprehensive data will be available to the Ministry of Primary Industries, which monitors the catch effort and sets quotas.

“In any business trends are your friends and this data will allow us to better farm the resource,” Mr Craig said.

“In time it is hoped to relate this information to food types, growth rates and potential advanced yield estimates to develop productivity estimates across the entire coast.”

The total allowable commercial catch in P?ua 2 has been set at 121 tonnes for the past 25 years and the fishery is rated as very healthy.

Even so, divers and local iwi are looking at the potential to give stocks a boost through a reseeding programme at their own expense.

A hatchery has been contracted to grow 80 -150,000 baby p?ua from local broodstocks.

The p?ua, about the size of a 10 cent coin, will be released somewhere on the Wairarapa coast in liaison with Ng?ti Kahungunu Ki Wairarapa iwi.

The group hopes to work alongside a local beach community to encourage ownership and protection.

“We need to ensure the area chosen allows us to watch and monitor progress as the young emerge from way under rocks and crevices to become adults,” Mr Craig said.

“We prefer a local people creating local solutions approach and hope soon to start engaging with the recreation sector.”

In a third initiative a voluntary increased size limit will be introduced in one of the reporting areas to help monitor growth rates.

The statutory minimum size of 125mm will be lifted to 128mm in that area.

Increased size limits could be used in future to ease pressure in areas of high common access between customary, recreational and commercial divers.

“One of the shared fishery engagement principles our management group has developed is to leave the resource in a better condition than when we found it and these initiatives and associated capital investment are part of that process,” Mr Craig said.

TheFishSite News Desk

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