Bay of Plenty Rock Lobster Industry Challenge Recreational Lobbyist Claims

( Commercial rock lobster fishermen in the Bay of Plenty (CRA 2) fishery are refuting statements made recently by Scott Macindoe of LegaSea, who claimed that “there are no crayfish” along North Island’s east coast.

Mark Wheeler, spokesman for the CRA 2 commercial fishermen, said today that “the recent LegaSea survey of 800 people had no scientific basis; had not been peer reviewed, and is no better than a collection of random opinions which certainly don’t confirm the status of the CRA 2 stock.”

“Somehow, Scott Macindoe has seen fit to bypass the normal scientific process carefully set up by MPI to provide fair and balanced information for fisheries management”, Mr Wheeler said.

“Mr Macindoe clearly prefers to run some kind of overblown vox-pop, then go bleating to the media about how it supports his conclusion that the fishing ‘aint what it used to be’. This is no way to manage a fishery, or anything else. To then blame MPI, commercial fishermen, global warming, and everyone other than the sector he purports to represent; is advocating a kind of resource management anarchy”.
Commercial rock lobster fishermen have experienced and documented cyclical increases and declines in CRA 2 stock abundance since official records began in 1979.
“If the science signals that a quota cut is warranted, then that is what happens, no question,” Mr Wheeler said.
“For example, in the 2015/16 season quota was cut by 15% from 236T to 200T. This was done at the request of the CRA 2 commercial fishermen themselves. Again, in the 2016/17 season, 25% of commercial quota was voluntarily retired. In both these instances, the initiatives were quickly taken by commercial fishermen when they observed a steady decline in CRA 2 stock abundance over several seasons.”
“No prompting from LegaSea was necessary – they played no part and had no influence. However, that does not stop Mr Macindoe from twisting this in the media as the Minister ‘cutting’ CRA 2 quota after pressure from LegaSea – that is just not true”.
Mr Wheeler said that CRA 2 commercial fishermen believe they are the only ones actively doing something about rebuilding the CRA 2 stocks to greater abundance. He claimed that LegaSea and other pressure groups seem to prefer pointing the finger at industry rather than take any direct responsibility for the state of the stock.
Mr Wheeler highlighted the massive increase in recreational fishing in the Northland to Bay of Plenty coastal area on the back of Auckland’s rapid population growth over two decades.

“Somehow LegaSea, armed with their weak “science” and a great sense of entitlement, believes that commercial fishermen must carry all the blame for stock depletion – they refuse to acknowledge the impact of recreational fishing and dive effort across CRA 2.”, said Mr Wheeler.
Mr Wheeler said that an approach had been made to the Minister’s office to investigate a reduction in the recreational bag limit for crayfish, to address localised depletion by the massive influx of recreational dive and pot fishermen in the Summer months.
“However, there has been no official response so it would appear the Ministry is not prepared to tackle this issue” he said.
Mr Wheeler stated that the industry wants fisheries to be managed based on good science, not politics. He advised that the recovery in CRA 2 abundance will not occur until recreational fishers understand the pressures they are putting on the stock and accept a shared responsibility to reduce their catches.
“The CRA 2 fishery is too valuable to let it be mismanaged by squeaky wheels like Scott Macindoe”, Mr Wheeler said.

Media Release 24 March 2017.