Environmental, iwi and recreational fishing interests in the Hauraki Gulf are celebrating the Minister’s decision to close the Coromandel scallop fishery indefinitely.
The Coromandel scallop fishery stretches from Leigh, Rodney in the north to Maketū in the Bay of Plenty.
Ngāti Hei led the closure with a rāhui prohibiting the harvest of scallops on the eastern side of the Coromandel Peninsula in 2020. Since 2021 a 2-year temporary closure has been in force.
“Ngāti Hei are overjoyed the Minister of Oceans and Fisheries has aligned with iwi and community wishes by closing the fishery to help it rebuild. Watching the scallops disappear over the years has been worrying, today we celebrate this decision,” says Ngāti Hei Rangatira, Joe Davis.
Recreational fishers including the New Zealand Sport Fishing Council, Mercury Bay and Tairua Sport Fishing Clubs supported the Coromandel community to conduct a citizen science survey of scallop beds in Opito Bay, in early 2021. The results were shared with officials and the community.
“It’s very pleasing the Minister has acted on the latest evidence that shows scallop populations in the Hauraki Gulf are at all time lows. However, it’s sad that the scallop beds have almost disappeared before action is taken. Let’s hope Fisheries New Zealand is more responsive to community concerns in the future,” says Tairua based New Zealand Sport Fishing Council Vice President Warren Maher.
Since 2020, LegaSea has worked with Hauraki Gulf iwi Ngāti Manuhiri and Ngāti Pāoa in supporting rāhui for scallops in their rohe. LegaSea has also been an integral part of the Hauraki Gulf Alliance seeking to have dredging, bottom trawling and Danish seining banned from Gulf waters.
“LegaSea is stoked that a rebuild plan is now in place. It’s great because it means the scallop beds will finally get a rest from dredging. This is good for the environment and the Hauraki Gulf communities who have worked so hard to protect the fishery for future generations,” says LegaSea Project Lead, Sam Woolford.
The Opito Bay Ratepayers Association was the first of many Coromandel groups to support a restoration plan and the rāhui laid down by Ngāti Hei in 2020.
“The Coromandel community and businesses came together in 2020 to initiate the first scallop survey in Opito Bay. We will be monitoring progress to ensure officials follow through with the Minister’s commitment to survey the scallop beds in the next three years,” says Chris Severne, Chairman of Opito Bay Ratepayers Association.
Minister’s media release
Coromandel temporary closure process
Coromandel scallop restoration plan
Hauraki Gulf Alliance