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The temporary emergency closure of the rock lobster (crayfish) fishery along the east coast of the South Island will be officially lifted at 5pm on Tuesday 20 December next week, Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has announced today.

“This is really positive news for the local community and economy given this fishery is worth around $23 million per year,” says Mr Guy.

“This fishery was temporarily closed on 21 November so we could assess the impact of the earthquake with the help of a $2 million research package.

“The scientific findings from this survey indicate the rock lobster fishery has come through in relatively good shape. This has given me enough confidence to officially reopen the fishery for all sectors – recreational, commercial and customary.

“The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has done an excellent job working so quickly to confirm the nature and scale of earthquake impacts on the crayfish population and habitat.”

A closure notice is still in effect for all remaining shellfish and seaweed species (excluding scampi), up to 20 February 2017 at 5pm.

“There is still more work to be done in assessing the impact on paua, but it’s clear there has been a major impact in some areas. We have scientific work underway and will be working with all stakeholders on a plan to give this important fishery the best opportunity to recover.

“A massive rescue and relocation effort of paua has been carried out along the Kaikoura coast by an incredibly dedicated group of volunteers and I salute them again for that work.

“MPI will continue to have an increased fishery officer presence along the Kaikōura coast to ensure compliance with the rules. I encourage everyone fishing in the area to be responsible – only take what you need and don’t exceed what you’re allowed. We all have to play our part to give this valuable fishery the best chance to recover.

“I also encourage people to keep an eye out for suspicious activity and call MPI on 0800 4 POACHER (0800 47 62 24) or email poacher@mpi.govt.nz to report it. Anyone breaking the law will face the consequences.”

The decision by the Minister is made under section 16 of the Fisheries Act 1996.

The daily bag limit for rock lobster in this fishery is six for recreational fishers. More information is available at https://www.mpi.govt.nz/travel-and-recreation/fishing/fishing-rules/kaikoura-area-fishing-rules/

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