Crayfish hanging on by a leg

August 26, 2017

There has been a mixed reaction since we launched the Crayfish Crisis campaign in July. Commercial fishers argue there are abundant crayfish between Pakiri and East Cape of the North Island, and we are creating an issue in CRA 2 where none exists. The Ministry for Primary Industries consider the CRA2 stock is well above sustainable limits, yet independent scientific research, recreational and customary fishers have confirmed the depletion of crayfish stocks in many traditional hotspots.

From LegaSea’s perspective, we need to rebuild the CRA2 fishery so natural functions can be restored in the marine ecosystem.

LegaSea is committed to raising awareness of the need for Nathan Guy to restore crayfish stocks to abundant levels, for the benefit of current and future generations. It is his job, his statutory obligation to us, the people of New Zealand.

The plain truth is we could have plenty of crayfish for everyone if the fisheries were managed to higher levels, and the only people that can deliver abundance is the Minister and Ministry for Primary Industries.

It is difficult to see a solution in the short-term when on the one hand you have commercial fishers adamant that all is well, and on the other hundreds of people who consider the CRA2 fishery to be decimated.

In 2014, one of New Zealand’s most respected scientists, Alison MacDiarmid of NIWA, commented that, “Rock lobster was the third most trophically important benthic invertebrate group in the region [Hauraki Gulf] before human arrival. Rock lobster are now the least important”.

Backing up MacDiarmid is another scientist, marine ecologist Tim Haggit.

In 2016 Haggit said the numbers of crayfish are so low in the Gulf that they no longer contribute to the marine ecology. Crayfish are “functionally extinct”.

These are damning assessments of the Hauraki Gulf’s crayfish stock, which is a significant portion of the CRA2 management area between Northland and East Cape.

“In our view, CRA 2 is collapsed, no longer able to replenish itself.”

Given these serious concerns LegaSea did a survey earlier in the year and there was a surprising level of support for a closure of the fishery. Recreational divers and potters were prepared to forego their catch in the short-term so there is more for everyone in the future.

Crayfish stocks have been in the Quota Management System since 1990. After 27 years of “mismanagement” CRA2 has collapsed. LegaSea encourages you to watch the CRA2 video and petition your local MP for a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Quota Management System. It’s broken. It needs fixing and we can start with restoring CRA2.