Offer to drop peninsula from paua plan

The paua industry is prepared to drop Otago Peninsula from a plan to allow commercial harvesting, Paua Management Area Council 5 chairman Storm Stanley says.

Mr Stanley said there was room for negotiation in the plan for increased access to coastline for commercial harvesting in Otago and Southland.

The Primary Industries Ministry is reviewing the areas open to commercial paua harvesting in Otago and Southland, including Otago Peninsula, the Clutha River and Bluff Hill, and written submissions can be made on the proposal until April 19.

The proposed areas were chosen so the submissions process could begin, Mr Stanley said.

''Basically, the whole thing blew up and really we hadn't had much feedback but people yelling at us.''

The submissions would decide what areas recreational divers were ''intense'' about, he said.

''Then we can look at mitigating it and moving boundaries around.''

The feedback from recreational paua divers on Otago Peninsula was high so the paua industry was prepared to drop the peninsula from future harvesting plans, he said.

However, there had been less feedback from Southland recreational paua divers, he said.

''We haven't had enough facts and feedback from the other areas to make any decision at all.''

Every part of the proposal was ''up for negotiation'' but a ''strong fact-based case'' would be needed to drop the proposal completely, Mr Stanley said.

Paua to the People spokesman Kees Meeuws said he was ''ecstatic'' Otago Peninsula could remain closed to commercial paua divers but he would continue campaigning until an official ministry announcement was made.

''Until we get written proof then we are not going to stop our fight.''

Southland residents in the ''Paua to the People movement'' would not accept having areas of the Southland coastline opened up to commercial divers.

''There are three other areas that are of concern and I'm sure the people down in Southland would not be happy about that.''

shawn.mcavinue@odt.co.nz

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