Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has released new commercial catch limits for scallops covering the top of the South Island.
The Challenger Scallop Enhancement Company is made up of commercial quota holders and will be permitted up to 25 tonnes of scallops from the Marlborough Sounds, and up to a further 15 tonnes from Tasman Bay during the 2015/16 season.
“This decision is based on the Ministry for Primary Industries’ (MPI) scientific research, and the key objective is to ensure sustainability and a timely rebuild of the number of scallops,” says Mr Guy.
“The limit for the Marlborough Sounds has been set lower than last year to support this ongoing rebuilding process. At the same time, it is encouraging to see signs of a rebuild in parts of Tasman Bay.
“This is a very important shared fishery for the top of the South Island. I expect the company to make in-season harvest adjustments as required, based on changes in observed biomass, to ensure overfishing does not occur.
“MPI will conduct a mid-season survey of key beds in the Marlborough Sounds over the next two months, and will also be conducting a more comprehensive survey across the entire Scallop 7 fishery (SCA7), including recreational fishing areas, before the end of the year.
“This will be the first survey of its kind that will look at the whole fishery to determine total biomass. All stakeholders will be fully informed of the outcome and MPI will engage with sector representatives to seek their views on the survey design and outcome once known.
“I will review this information, along with advice from MPI and discussions with stakeholders, and consider if further management action is necessary to meet these objectives for the benefit of all users of this fishery.”
The 2015 scallop season runs from 15 July till 14 February 2016, with commercial fishing due to commence on 29 September.