Government closes all of Coromandel to scallop fishing

The Government on Tuesday closed off the remaining open areas off the Coromandel to scallop fishing, with Fisheries Minister David Parker invoking emergency measures due to a "serious decline" in populations

North Island scallop populations have declined sharply in the past few years, already resulting in fisheries' closure in Northland, the Hauraki Gulf and most of the Coromandel earlier this year. 

"A new camera-based survey of the beds has indicated a serious decline in numbers," Parker said on Tuesday. "While the results are yet to be published, it is clear these scallop beds have declined considerably and immediate action is required to provide the best chance of recovery."

Parker said such emergency measures weren't often used, as they bypassed public consultation, but were necessary.

He said the likely cause of the population's collapse included fishing, sedimentation from land activities, water quality and climate change-linked environmental conditions.

"The closure takes effect from Friday, December 16 and will prohibit all scallop fishing in the two defined areas at Little Barrier/Te Hauturu-o-Toi and Colville channel," Parker's office said in a statement.

"It will be in place for three months and includes commercial, recreational and customary fishing.

"The Coromandel scallop fishery is being fully reviewed, with a long-term closure proposed, as part of Fisheries New Zealand's regular sustainability reviews for the April 1 fishing year."