Paua gathering stays with the people

Rhyse Bartlett savours a paua fritter while other members of Paua to the People and their children celebrate (back, from left) Louis Brown, Dr Tim Ritchie, Hamish Forrester, Kees Meeuws, Matai McGinty (7), Simon Kaan, (front, from left) , Luciana Brown (5), Ariana McGinty (4),  Lloyd McGinty, and Dave Hodson. Photo by Linda Robertson.
Rhyse Bartlett savours a paua fritter while other members of Paua to the People and their children celebrate (back, from left) Louis Brown, Dr Tim Ritchie, Hamish Forrester, Kees Meeuws, Matai McGinty (7), Simon Kaan, (front, from left) , Luciana Brown (5), Ariana McGinty (4), Lloyd McGinty, and Dave Hodson. Photo by Linda Robertson.

People have won over money and greed in the decision to abandon plans to increase commercial access to Otago and Southland paua, lobby group spokesman Hamish Forrester says.

Formed to fight the proposal, Paua to the People members gathered last night at Lloyd McGinty's Tomahawk home in Dunedin to celebrate the decision announced yesterday by Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy.

Mr Forrester said common sense prevailed, although he was disappointed by the lengthy period of uncertainly created by the consultation process.

It was great to see the needs of people placed above profit, he said.

Group member and former All Black Kees Meeuws said the ''long fight'' had defended the right of people to gather their own food.

He could not blame the commercial sector for ''having a crack'', but if it had won, just a handful of quota holders would have benefited, he said.

Another group member, Dave Hodson, felt relief after the decision; it was gratifying to see the concerns of local people had been heard.

Mr Guy confirmed by press release restrictions on commercial paua harvesting in areas around Otago and Southland would remain.

''I've taken a precautionary approach and made the decision to retain the closures to commercial fishers,'' he said.

''It's clear these areas are greatly valued by recreational and customary fishers.''

One of the great things about living in New Zealand was that it was relatively easy to gather paua, he said.

The industry was excluded from the areas originally because of local water quality issues, and asked for the restrictions to be lifted on the basis that water quality had improved.

The restrictions never applied to recreational users.

Paua Management Area Council 5 chairman Storm Stanley said the fishing industry was disappointed but accepted there would be no change to the status quo.

''The extended consultation made it apparent that there seemed to be a much higher level of customary and recreational take from these areas than at first thought, and so the minister has made his call accordingly.

''We will continue to work on maintaining and improving the health of this shared fishery.

''We see that it is important to continue to get along with recreational and customary paua harvesters, as we have done for many years.''

Dunedin-based National List MP Michael Woodhouse said in a statement he was pleased the status quo would be kept.

''This has caused a considerable amount of anxiety and I acknowledge the very careful considerations being given by the minister in respect of the decision.

Submissions on the proposal closed in April, with 2718 opposed to commercial quotas, and 22 in favour. The areas proposed for commercial harvesting included Otago Peninsula, the Clutha River and Bluff Hill.

- eileen.goodwin@odt.co.nz

 

Yes, great news

I echo waynewhoever's sentiments.  The decision on paua gathering is great news.  Congratulations to the group Paua to the People.  Thanks for your hard work resulting in a resource being saved for the public not sacrificed for business profits.

Best piece of news

This article would be the best piece of news I have read this year!

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