Crayfish Crisis Outcome

January 24, 2018

Minister’s crayfish decision

Stuart Nash, Minister of Fisheries, has announced there will be commercial catch reductions in two crayfish stocks including CRA 2, from April 1st 2018. There will also be commercial catch increases for the Wellington-Hawke’s Bay region (CRA 4) and the Southern – Fiordland (CRA 8) fish stock.

Recreational fishers did not support the proposed commercial catch increases, recommending the Minister retain the status quo. We support the Minister in reducing commercial catch limits in the Otago (CRA 7) and Hauraki Gulf – Bay of Plenty (CRA 2) regions. Read more.

In February 2018 LegaSea initiated the Crayfish Crisis public awareness campaign. Elements of the campaign included the CRA 2 survey, a detailed webinar, and video.

The Campaign was promoted through the LegaSea and New Zealand Sport Fishing Council databases, shared online and through social media. LegaSea has access to over 50,000 on our own subscriber database and other organisations shared the survey through their channels.

The Crayfish Crisis featured on television, in print and social media, receiving the broadest coverage for LegaSea since the 2013 Save Our Snapper campaign.

CRA 2 survey participation
Over seven weeks in February and March 2018 LegaSea conducted a survey to measure people’s perceptions of the state of CRA 2, the crayfish stock between Te Arai Point, Northland, and East Cape. There were 4008 responses to the survey, from both fishers and non-fishers, reflecting wide public interest in the management of New Zealand’s crayfish stocks, particularly CRA 2.

Respondents were asked if they were a recreational or commercial fisher, whether they had caught crayfish in CRA 2, and if so, for how many years, and the general area they most commonly fished. Some respondents did not answer all the questions.

2287 respondents rated the size and availability of crayfish in CRA 2 as –

  1. Poor (48%) or decimated (41%).
  2. Average 9%.
  3. Less than 3% consider it is good or plentiful.

Fishers with six to 10 years’ experience in CRA 2 rated the size and availability of crayfish as the worst, followed closely by those with one to five years’ experience, and respondents with 16 to 20 years’ experience.

The survey asked fishers their most common crayfish harvest area within CRA 2. There were 2288 respondents that identified the general area between Te Arai and East Cape where they most commonly fished for crayfish. Of these respondents –

  1. 39% mostly fished for crayfish in the northern area (Hauraki Gulf and Barrier Islands)
  2. 38% mostly fished the central area (eastern Coromandel to Mayor Island).
  3. 23% most commonly fished the western Bay of Plenty (BOP) to East Cape area.

Northern fishers rated the fishery worst, with 89% rating the fishery as decimated (44%) or poor (45%). A higher proportion of central and western BOP-East Cape fishers rated their fishery as poor rather than decimated. Less than 3% rated any of the areas as good or plentiful.

Future management action
Of the respondents who answered the question about future management, 58% said they had caught crayfish in CRA 2.

Those who had fished in CRA 2 gave more support to the most conservative MPI option (42%), while a majority of respondents who had not fished in CRA 2 supported the option proposed by LegaSea, – a Closure to all cray fishing for a time (48%).

Survey summary

The CRA 2 Crisis survey attracted 4008 responses, almost five times as many as the 2017 LegaSea crayfish survey. This represents the largest ever survey of crayfish and recreational fishing-diving interests in New Zealand. This growth in engagement is a reflection of the strong support for the campaign from the dive fraternity, many individuals, tackle and dive outlets, and organisations.

The New Zealand Sport Fishing Council and LegaSea thanks all survey respondents and acknowledges the New Zealand Angling and Casting Association and Spearfishing New Zealand for their input and support for the joint recreational submission.

NZSFC and LegaSea also acknowledge the strong support for the CRA 2 submission from the New Zealand Underwater Association, representing recreational divers. This support is most welcome and LegaSea intends to maintain and build on the relationships with the dive community as we work towards the crayfish regulation review later in 2018.

Public awareness

LegaSea has produced a raft of articles and material for various publications and outlets since August 2017. In February 2018 a joint submission advocating for precautionary management of four crayfish stocks was submitted to the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) by the New Zealand Sport Fishing Council – LegaSea teams and the New Zealand Angling and Casting Association. The submission was supported by Spearfishing New Zealand. There was also strong support for the CRA 2 submission from the New Zealand Underwater Association who represent recreational divers.

This is a selection of the material produced to increase public awareness and encourage more conservative management of our crayfish stocks –


  1. May – No crayfish closure.
  2. April – Mixed bag of management changes for crayfish.
  3. April – CRA 2 survey report.
  4. April – Crayfish – The real test is looming.
  5. March – You count when it comes to crayfish.
  6. March – Recreational fishers welcome Minister’s actions on CRA 2.
  7. March – Conserving our crayfish.
  8. February – What next for crayfish?
  9. February – Fisheries review needs to be prioritised.
  10. February – Joint recreational submission to MPI. 
  11. February – Summary of joint recreational submission.
  12. February – Campaign survey and video launched.
  13. February – Crayfish Crisis: TAKE ACTION Campaign underway.
  14. January – Restoring crayfish abundance must be a priority.
  15. January – Making a difference for crayfish.


  1. December – CRA 2 survey report sent to database.
  2. October – 2017 Crayfish campaign a success.
  3. August – Crayfish hanging on by a leg. 
  4. August – Fisheries Manifesto released.

Crayfish Crisis campaign video


Specific aspects of the Crayfish Crisis campaign included –

  1. Crayfish Crisis video.
  2. Survey – now closed.
  3. Donations to support the Crayfish Crisis
  4. The Crayfish Crisis – Webinar Slides
  5. The joint recreational crayfish submission sent to MPI.
  6. Find out the main points made in the submission in this easy to read summary.