Coromandel Scallop Restoration ProgrammeSince October 2020 LegaSea has been working with the Coromandel community to address their concerns about the depletion of scallops, particularly in Opito Bay on the eastern side of the Peninsula. Opito Bay has always been a popular place to gather scallops due to its shallow, clear waters.
Years of unconstrained commercial harvest and destructive dredging has decimated the scallops, crabs and other sea life that inhabit the seafloor. Locals want to restore scallops to abundant levels and sustain the beds for future generations. Previous attempts by the Opito Bay Ratepayers Association to engage with Fisheries New Zealand officials about ongoing depletion have been unsuccessful. So, the locals are taking the bold step of initiating community-led action. A Coromandel Scallop Restoration and Sustainability Plan has been drafted, a scallop survey has been designed and actioned as part of the overall project. Several meetings have been held with mana whenua Ngāti Hei, Opito Bay and Kūaotunu ratepayers, New Zealand Underwater Association, New Zealand Sport Fishing Council, Tairua-Pauanui Sports Fishing Club, Mercury Bay Game Fishing Club, Matarangi Boat & Fishing Club, Whangamata Ocean Sports Club and LegaSea. A steerage committee of representatives from some of these organisations has been overseeing implementation of the project.
Campaign launchThe scallop survey was officially launched by Ngāti Hei and the community at a ceremony at Opito Bay on 17 December 2020. Ngāti Hei rangatira Joe Davis announced a rāhui on scallops and the community is supporting a voluntary ban on all take of scallops until a more formal customary management tool can be established to prevent harvesting. With non-commercial harvest constrained, talks have been initiated with commercial interests; no formal response has been received yet. Dive Zone Whitianga has generously donated time and resources to conduct the scallop survey using teams of divers. The Opito Bay Ratepayers Association, New Zealand Sport Fishing Council and local clubs, and LegaSea have provided logistical and financial support for the research. The New Zealand Sport Fishing Council received the survey results in May 2021. LegaSea acknowledges that mismanagement of scallops is not unique to Coromandel. “While the Quota Management System is failing Kiwis, it’s motivating to see the local community rallying together and taking control to ensure their scallop beds are not wiped out like we have already seen in the Marlborough Sounds, Tasman and Golden Bays at the top of the South Island, and in the Kaipara Harbour,” says LegaSea Project Lead Sam Woolford.
Timeline of process2022
- 29 Mar – Partial closure (except Little Barrier and Colville) of SCA CS announced to commence April 2022. Ministerial decision.
- 29 Mar – Outrage over partial closure of SCA CS. News item.
- 17 Dec – Opito Bay scallop restoration project – one year on. News item.
- 2 Dec – Widespread support for Waiheke rahui. News item.
- 19 Nov – Groups unite to call an end to all bottom contact fishing in the Hauraki Gulf. News item.
- 15 Oct – A mixed outcome from scallop ban. News item.
- 24 Sept – What next for scallops? Update here.
- 14 Sept – Fears Coromandel rāhui will impact on other areas in the Hauraki Gulf. News item.
- 8 Sept – Joint groups media release welcoming the Minister’s decision and expressing concerns for other areas. Read here.
- 8 Sept – Minister announces his approval for a 2-year temporary closure to all harvesting of scallops around the eastern Coromandel. Read here.
- 12 Aug – Media release. Commercial fishers undo community’s efforts to save scallops. Read here.
- 5 July – Letter sent to David Parker, Minister of Oceans and Fisheries, from Opito Bay Ratepayers Association. Read here.
- 19 May – Scallop survey report made available publicly. The New Zealand Sport Fishing Council report summarises results of the citizen science dive survey carried out in Opito Bay. Summary report here.
- 14 May – Locals and members of the Coromandel Scallop Restoration Team express concerns about the state of Opito Bay scallops. TV 1 news item here.
- 12 May – The scallop survey report is released to media only. Media statement here.
- 12 May – Joint recreational submission by the New Zealand Sport Fishing Council, LegaSea, New Zealand Underwater Association, and Spearfishing New Zealand. Submission sent to MPI supports the Ngāti Hei application for a s186A temporary closure of scallop beds here.
- 23 March – s186A closure request put out for public consultation. The two year closure includes no harvesting of scallops by anyone in Ngāti Hei rohe.
- 22 March – LegaSea and Ngāti Hei speak at the Hauraki Gulf Forum about the Opito Bay scallop programme. The presentation can be found here.
- 10 Feb – s186A closure submitted to MPI by iwi Ngāti Hei. Closure request can be found here.
- 29 Jan – 2nd letter sent to David Parker, Minister of Oceans and Fisheries.
- 29 Jan – Public urged to support voluntary scallop ban. News item.
- 26 Jan – No diving or dredging for Coromandel scallops. Article.
- 18 Dec – Radio New Zealand interview with Ngāti Hei rangatira, Joe Davis: Locals take action.
- 17 Dec – Issue media release by combined groups: Media here.
- 17 Dec – Launch rāhui and voluntary scallop harvesting ban at Opito Bay ceremony.
- 14 Dec – Diver training, Dive Zone Whitianga.
- 9 Dec – LegaSea article published online: Opito Bay scallop depletion not acceptable.
- 4 Dec – LegaSea email to database.
- 2 Dec – LegaSea article published online: Scallops are delicious.
- 2 Dec – Letter sent to David Parker, Minister of Oceans and Fisheries: Read here.
- Nov – Dec – Steerage committee meetings.
- October – Design scallop survey.
- October – Draft Coromandel Scallop Restoration and Sustainability Plan.
- October – Introductory meeting with Opito Bay interests.
MediaIn chronological order
- 18 Dec 2020 – RNZ interview with Ngāti Hei rangatira, Joe Davis around rāhui launch and community action. Listen here.
- 20 Dec 2020 – Opito Bay voluntary scallop harvesting ban and rāhui launch article in local Whitianga paper, The Informer. Read here.
- 26 March 2021 – s186A closure media release in Stuff. Read here.
- 22 April 2021 – Whitianga Scallop Festival makes sustainable changes to support the restoration of Coromandel scallops. Read here.
- 13 May 2021 – LegaSea audio interview with RNZ around the scallop survey results. Listen here.
- 14 May 2021 – TVNZ 1 News interviews with locals and Coromandel Scallop Restoration team around the scallop survey results. Watch here.
- 14 May 2021 – NZ Herald coverage around the scallop survey results. Read here.
- 15 May 2021 – Stuff coverage around the scallop survey results. Read here.
- 01 June 2021 – Stuff coverage around community action sparked by scallop rāhui. Read here.
- 24 June 2021 – Video made by King Fern films summarizing Opito Bay action. Watch here.
- 15 July 2021 – Minister silent on scallop rahui. Hauraki Herald article here.
- 17 July 2021 – Rāhui unites Coromandel communities. Stuff article here.
- Ngāti Hei s186A closure submissions and resources. Click here.
- Coromandel Scallop fishery information here.
- Plenary. Current status of Coromandel Scallops. Fisheries NZ report. November 2019. Read here.
- Coromandel scallop abundance report. Fisheries NZ Assessment report. June 2012. Read here.
- Coromandel scallops 2010-11 Total Allowable Catch submissions and resources. Click here.
- In-season review of Total Allowable Catch for Coromandel scallops 2010-11. Read here.
- Total Allowable Catch decision for Coromandel scallops. Minister increases TAC. Read here.
- Plan. Draft plan for Coromandel Scallop Fishery, Ministry of Fisheries. Read here.
- Research. Review of dredge fishing technologies for application and practice in New Zealand, Ministry of Fisheries 2004. Discusses the self-tipping box dredge used in the Coromandel fishery. Read here.
- Ministry for the Environment report 2016. Discusses from Page 50 the impact of our fisheries on our marine environment. Read here.
- Research. Population dynamics of the scallop in the Hauraki Gulf. Read here.
Scallop closures around New Zealand
- 2021 – Whangaroa scallop closure submissions and resources. Click here.
- 2021 – Waiheke island scallop, pāua, crayfish and mussel rāhui. Read here.
- 2018 – Southern scallop fishery SCA 7 submissions and resources. Click here
Scallop fisheries in New Zealand
- SCA 1 – Northland scallop fishery: Closed as of April 2022 with scallop beds depleted, particularly in the Far North. Read here.
- SCA CS – Coromandel scallop fishery: Partially closed as of April 2022.
- SCA 7 – Southern scallop fishery: Currently closed due to low numbers of scallops. Read more here.
- SCA 4 – Chatham Islands scallop fishery: Currently open to fishing, but is unfished. Read more here.