[16 December/NZ Herald]

Forest & Bird is calling for the wider Hauraki Gulf to Bay of Plenty crayfishing area (known as CRA2) to be closed to all fishing for three years to allow the species sufficient time to start recovering. Forest & Bird Marine Conservation Advocate, Katrina Goddard, said without an urgent end to fishing pressure, crayfish could become functionally extinct throughout the entire area within a few years. The Fisheries New Zealand branch of the Ministry for Primary Industries has already more than halved the total allowable catch from 416.5 tonnes to 173 tonnes, under measures introduced in April. Ms Goddard said recreational fishers, iwi, and scientists have been warning of the crayfish collapse for many years, to little effect, adding that Crayfish are a hugely important part of the ecosystem as they help manage kina numbers, protecting kelp forests that provide habitat for fish and marine life. New Zealand Sport Fishing Council supported the MPI’s proposal to reduce bag takes from six to three, but spokesman Scott Macindoe said it likely wouldn’t make a difference. A spokeswoman for Minister of Fisheries, Stuart Nash, said a ban had been considered during consultation on the cuts announced earlier this year, noting the Minister had asked Fisheries New Zealand to keep working with other scientists and the industry to improve monitoring and management of the CRA2 fishery and he expects an update in 2019.