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Scallop Season Opens, But Fishers Must Follow Rules


NEW ZEALAND - Fisheries and Aquaculture Minister Phil Heatley is calling on scallop fishers to follow the rules as the season opens in Auckland today (1 September).

The recreational season for gathering scallops in the Auckland and Kermadec Fishery Management Area, which includes Northland, the Hauraki Gulf, Waikato, the Bay of Plenty and the west coast as far south as Tirua Point, starts on 1 September and runs to 31 March 2011. Kaipara Harbour will also be open for scallop gathering from tomorrow.

Fishers need to make sure they know bag limits, size limits and seasons before they go fishing, says Mr Heatley.

The minimum legal size for scallops in the Auckland and Kermadec area is 100 millimetres measured across the widest part of the shell.

The legal bag limit for scallops is 20 per fisher per day. In addition, divers may take an extra bag for each of up to two people on board a boat, provided they are acting as safety people for the divers.

When dredging for scallops, only those actively involved in fishing are entitled to a daily bag limit.

"Minimum size limits are carefully set to make sure there will be enough scallops left for the future," says Mr Heatley.

"Taking undersized scallops could affect the fishery by reducing the amount of spawning and the number of small scallops growing into the fishery. Only take what you need; fish for a feed and not to fill the freezer."

Fishery Officers will be patrolling the beaches and inspecting scallop catches. Fines of $250 to $500 per offence can be imposed on fishers who ignore the rules. Serious breaches can result in confiscation of diving gear, boats and vehicles.

"Fishery Officers have the job of protecting our fish stocks for future generations. They’d rather help you than police you, but if you ignore the rules you leave them no choice but to give you a ticket," Mr Heatley said.

"If you see people taking more than their fair share, you should report them by calling 0800 4 POACHER. They are stealing from you and from future generations."

The Ministry of Fisheries have advised there is no known link between sea slugs and scallops. While Auckland Regional Public Health Service advises people against collecting shellfish from urban beaches due to general issues of contamination, it does not regard scallop gathering as a high-risk activity because scallops are generally found in deeper water further offshore. The New Zealand Food Safety Authority says it has no concerns with recreationally or commercially caught seafood in the Gulf.