Crayfish stock collapse triggers call for CRA2 fisheries closure

Loss of breeding habitats in the CRA2 fishery has sent the crayfish population into a critical, negative spiral, prompting local NGOs to call for an immediate fisheries closure.

According to a report on Thursday by Raewyn Peart, policy director for the Environmental Defence Society, the situation is now so dire that the ministry for Primary Industry’s proposal for harvest level cuts of between 40 per cent and 54 per cent is “too little too late”. She says the fishery needs to be closed before more damage is done.

According to Ms Peart, overfishing has reduced crayfish populations to less than 5% of their orginal size in some areas. This has triggered a critical imbalance in the marine ecosystem; with fewer crayfish, kina populations have exploded, stripping the reefs of kelp forests by more than 50%, she notes.

Ms Peart says that a dearth of data, scientific investment and systematic surveys of stock and settlement rates for juveniles in the Hauraki Gulf and Bay of Plenty are to blame. She adds that a narrow focus on counting stocks, rather than monitoring the broader marine ecology, has resulted in the current stock and ecological collapse.

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Submissions on management options for the CRA 2 stock can be lodged with MPI by Friday 09. For more information please click here.