'Mass deaths of paua' after quake - expert

Thousands of paua have died after the Kaikoura coastline rose 2 metres (Newshub)
Thousands of paua have died after the Kaikoura coastline rose 2 metres (Newshub)

After being exposed for more than two days, it's estimated that hundreds of thousands of paua have died.

Monday morning's 7.5 earthquake left parts of the Kaikoura coast between Ward and Cape Campbell raised as much as two metres.

Large sections of reef have risen out of the water, leaving paua and various species, including crayfish, exposed.

The Paua Industry Council said Kaikoura divers chartered helicopters to put crews on the ground to analyse the condition of the raised seabed.

Chairman Storm Stanley says it didn't take long for the divers to realise the paua were dead.

"After an hour or two it became pretty clear that most of the paua are now dead or dying," he says.

Mr Stanley says the seabed uplift is devastating for the fishing industry; the paua will now just fall off the rocks and rot away.

"The scale is enormous. You're talking 40 to 50 kilometres of coastline with habitat and reefs raised."

He describes the incident as causing severe damage to the marine environment and says the support from the Ministry for Primary Industries has been outstanding.

"They've really stepped up. They've been a huge help to us," he says.

"They've sent all the officials and personnel along as they can."

Mr Stanley couldn't give a number on how many paua were saved.