Kaikoura paua rescue operation saves millions

The rescue operation of marine life along the Kaikoura coast has meant millions of dollars' worth of seafood has been saved.

A local group of paua rescuers have been voluntarily moving paua from the raised seabed after the devastating earthquakes on November 14.

Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) fisheries scientist Dr Julie Hills says some areas of seabed are looking healthy.

"Some areas are looking not too bad, other areas not as healthy as we'd like to see them looking," she says.

"There's been a huge shift in the ecosystem, an awful a lot of habitat has come up out of the ocean.

"A lot of it will have risen permanently, so we now have a completely new ecosystem."

Ms Hills says some of the marine life have been able to move themselves back into the water.

"We saw some quite encouraging survival, it does appear these animals have shifted themselves," she says.

"So that's really encouraging I don't think we're looking at a collapse of a fishery at all. 

"We just need to get a very good understanding of the level of impact."

A team of paua rescuers have managed to save more than 60 tonnes of paua from the raised seabed along the Kaikoura coast (Newshub)
A team of paua rescuers have managed to save more than 60 tonnes of paua from the raised seabed along the Kaikoura coast (Newshub)

Founder of the paua rescue operations along the Kaikoura coast, Michael Vincent says they have saved a large amount of paua.

"It's a huge amount, financially and for the future of fisheries, it's massive," he says.

"It's been a massive effort and I would like to thank Te Runanga o Kaikoura, MPI and the Kaikoura paua relocation and relief effort for their combined support for the continued relocation."

The group estimate they have saved more than 60 tonnes of paua since the earthquakes but couldn't give a definitive number.

Mr Vincent says the removal of paua was relatively easy.

"Normally you would jump in the water with a wetsuit on at low tide.

"We were actually going down in our sand shoes and taking the paua off the rock.

"You didn't have to use a knife because they were so relaxed."

He says once the paua were moved into fresh water it was clear they were already doing better.

"They sort of revived themselves, the tidal water got into them," he says.

"It was really promising when they got into the fresh water they started actually sticking to the rock.

"Within five minutes there was a definite improvement in their health. 

"I don't know what's going to happen in three or four months' time but what we see at this stage is looking really, really positive."