Call for Auckland, Bay of Plenty fishing ban over crayfish numbers

There is a call for an immediate ban on catching crayfish off a North Island coast.

Forest and Bird wants the area between the Hauraki Gulf and the Bay of Plenty, known as CRA-2, to be closed for three years to replenish stocks.

Spokesperson Katrina Goddard says it's about protecting the crayfish - and without drastic action our crayfish will be gone forever.

"There's less than 20 percent of the original biomass of crayfish out there. If you think about that, you've got a big forest and you cut away 80 percent of it, is it still really a healthy forest?" she says.

In April the Fisheries New Zealand branch of the Ministry for Primary Industries made drastic cuts to the total allowable catch, dropping it from 416.5 tonnes to 173 tonnes. The recreational allowance was set at 34 tonnes.

Fisheries New Zealand is now considering halving the recreational daily bag limit from six to three spiny rock lobsters to bring the recreational catch below its new allowance.

But Ms Goddard says the Fisheries Minister is currently just tinkering around the edges and wants our crayfish species to be put first.

"It's actually not about recreational take versus commercial take - it's actually about the crayfish and the ecosystem health," she says.

"Crayfish are such an important keystone species - they help the ecosystem. Without crayfish, we see large collapses."


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