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New mataitai reserve to protect Golden Bay’s west coast paua

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Date Posted: 04 May 2011 | 5 Comments

Maori and Pakeha of the Golden Bay community have established a Mataitai for management of the local paua stocks of Golden Bay’s west coast. Commercial take only of paua will be banned in the reserve.

The paua fishery on Golden Bay’s west coast will be better protected for generations to come, after the setting up of a new mataitai reserve, in which commercial fishing for paua is banned.

Image: Members of Te Tai Tapu Mātaitati Reserve management committee: from left, John Ward-Holmes, Barney Thomas, Laurelee Duff, Kirstie MacLeod, John Waugh, Grant Wyllie, Brett Hart. Photo: Neil Wilson

The Mohua Ki Te Tai Tapu Mataitai marine reserve at Paturai, which officially opened last week, covers two sections of coastline up to 1km offshore. It extends for 14km along the coast from the Paturau River south to the Turimawiwi River near Anatori, and covers 5km of coastline at Kaihoka.

Led by Golden Bay iwi, Te Ati Awa, Ngati Tama and Ngati Rarua, the reserve has been established in response to a decline in paua stocks in the area due to a combination of commercial, recreational and customary fishing, says Manawhenua Ki Mohua (Golden Bay iwi) representative John Ward-Holmes.

“The key is sustainability. We want future generations to get the same benefits that we have,” he said.

Mr Ward-Holmes said that the support of the local community was a key factor in establishing the reserve. The management committee running the reserve is made up of three iwi representatives, two local landowners and honorary fisheries officer John Warr.

Overall the process of setting up the mataitai had taken four to five years, he said.

“It’s a partnership between iwi and the local community. The new sign at Paturau of a waka and a sailing ship depicts that partnership,” Mr Ward-Holmes said.

Honorary fisheries officer John Warr, who initiated the idea of a reserve in the area, said he had been concerned about the decline of paua stocks for many years.

“I approached John [Ward-Holmes] and he welcomed the idea. I believe it’s the first mataitai in the country with both Pakeha and Maori on the committee,” Mr Warr said.

According to Ministry of Fisheries records, the commercial paua take from the Kaihoka and Paturau areas is 2.5 tonnes a year, with 187 tonnes harvested annually from Area Seven fishery as a whole.

The Paturau area has also been popular with recreational fishermen. Ministry of Fisheries spatial allocations team leader Randall Bess said that in the latest significant fisheries patrol from January 21 to 23 , 741 paua were taken by 117 fishers inspected. Of those 741 paua, 20 were illegal.

The ministry’s acting field operations manager for Nelson Marlborough, Tony Little, said illegal paua fishing had been a problem in the area over the years.

“It’s not so much really serious offences involving sophisticated groups, but people being greedy,” he said.

The establishment of the mataitai would “definitely improve” paua stocks in the area.

There had been a voluntary closure of the area from February 2001 to October 2004. At that time, commercial fishers agreed to close the area for two years and the recreational sector recommended the daily limit be reduced from 10 to five.

By Hayley Gale - The Nelson Mail

Posted in: New Zealand News

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