'Functionally extinct' - Fishing advocacy group want to see crayfish put before profit due to declining numbers

Crayfish numbers are declining in the Hauraki Gulf with an expert describing them as being "functionally extinct".

The area, known as the CRA2 region in the industry, which extends from Pakiri through to the East Cape has virtually been wiped out of the popular delicacy. 

Limitations have been put in place by the Ministry for Primary Industries previously, but fishing advocacy group LegaSea says it's time the fish came before the profit. 

"We've got fisheries down in the South Island that pot lift, which is how their industry measure their take, three to four kilo's of crayfish.

"Up in the CRA2 area, they're only getting 250 grams of grams per pot lift. This has been going down hill for 20 odd years," LegaSea's Richard Barker told TVNZ1's Breakfast this morning. 

In 2014, the Government cut the crayfish quota to 36 tonnes and Mr Barker explained the industry took a "volunterry shelving of a further 50 tonnes."

"The reality is, they cannot catch it. Efforts trebled over this time and the fish just aren't there. We see lots of smaller fish and what we call Weta's, just little crayfish but the actual legal size of takeable fish, it is functionally extinct and this with a supposedly world leading quota management system. 

"We really would invite the new incoming Minster of Fisheries, Stewart Nash, to use this as a case study of where's this quota management system going wrong because we have had 20 years showing decline.

"Action needs to be taken. Fish need to be put first we want to see a rebuild of this fishery over the shortest possible period and I do feel sorry, some commercial fishermen, younger guys, have brought into the industry based on a flawed business model."

Mr Barker stated that he wouldn't mind if the CRA2 region closed as long as the public of New Zealand is allowed access first when it is reopened. However, he did state he understands under the "term of reference, they cannot close the fishery, they have got to have a management system."

MPI is taking submissions on the CRA2 issue up until February 9 and said in a statement it is "committed to protecting and rebuilding this important shared fishery and is very aware that it is under significant pressure."

After their assessment in 2013 and reduction of commercial catch in 2014, MPI added, "A follow up assessment in 2017 suggested that the numbers are still low, triggering a requirement to develop a plan for rebuilding the stock."

Crayfish number are declining in the Hauraki Gulf, known as the CRA2 region, which extends from Pakiri through to the East Cape. Source: Breakfast



'Who likes burnt bacon?' Jacinda Ardern gets stuck in at Waitangi Day breakfast BBQ

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has got stuck in behind the BBQ at Waitangi Day to help feed the masses during breakfast on the field by Waka House.

Putting an apron on, Ms Ardern joked with those lining up for the breakfast BBQ.

Mr Gayford says he is enjoying the early morning BBQ in the sunshine at Waitangi. Source: 1 NEWS

"Who likes burnt bacon?" She said drawing laughs.

The PM had earlier attended the dawn service in what has been a five-day trip to Waitangi this year.

The Prime Minister is helping to feed the masses at this year's celebrations. Source: 1 NEWS

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Education Minister pledges new opportunities for young performers after Stage Challenge shut down

Education Minister Chris Hipkins has pledged to provide new opportunities for young performances after Stage Challenge was axed. 

The oragnisers of the annual dance event announced it will be closing its doors after 25 years due to an unstable economic environment and lack of funding. 

In response, the ministry has allocated $267,000 to provide support for regional and national children's performance. 

"Like many people I thought regional and national activities of this sort were too important to lose," Mr Hipkins said yesterday. 

"Music, drama and dance are an important part of the curriculum and for many young people are a way of expressing their creativity and building confidence.

"As a result, while the Stage Challenge brand itself is licenced and cannot be replicated, I am today inviting potential providers to put forward expressions of interest to run national and regional opportunities for students to showcase their skills. The Stage Challenge Foundation is invited to put forward a proposal.

"Because time is short, I have asked officials to free up more funding for the activity this year to increase the chance of it continuing, while it works with potential providers on a more sustainable, long-term replacement."

The Ministry has allocated nearly $300,000 to provide support for regional and national children’s performance. Source: Breakfast