Commercial fishing operators are pointing the finger at their recreational counterparts as the Government looks to cut paua quotas in the Marlborough Sounds.
Commercial paua fisherman Dave Proctor is gutted his paua quota could be cut by between 40 and 60 per cent, and he wants to be compensated.
A reduced quota of 60 per cent is only being applied to commercial operators in the area which has angered some, but scientists say there may be another cause.
Source: 1 NEWS
"I still have a boat to maintain and all the other stuff, I still pay quota levies, so yeah, it definitely hurts," he told ONE News.
The proposed quota clampdown is in response to declining paua stocks in the upper South Island.
The ban will apply only to commercial operators and Mr Proctor is angry the Government is not targeting recreational catchers as well, despite an official report admitting they were part of the problem.
"It shouldn't be just the commercial fisherman, just because we make a living out of it," he said.
But scientists believe the forest industry is also to blame for dwindling paua stocks, with sediment from commercial operations polluting waterways and killing a large seaweed called kelp that's vital to the growth of paua.
"Sediment makes water muddy. Sediment makes it hard for kelp to grow. Sediment gets in the guts of paua, they don't grow so well, so they're stunted," said Katherine Short, Terra Moana researcher.
The forestry industry says it's not the primary cause of sedimentation, but it still wants to work with local authorities to mitigate the effects of their operations.
Local iwi won't be affected by the proposed cuts, but they're disappointed some are abusing the system.
"Unfortunately there's a whole lot of citizens in New Zealand who don't have to worry about that because they have this automatic right to go down, take what they can," said Richard Bradley, Rangitane iwi spokesman.
Mr Proctor says there are nowhere near enough ministry fisheries officers and it's too big an area to police.
Marlborough has also taken another hit with the Government banning scallop fishing for the coming season too.