Inconclusive evidence of the cause of kina barren formation

In an article titled Shane Jones sets sights on killer kina – An industrial grade problem the Fisheries Minister Shane Jones is quoted as saying “Some ecologists say it’s related to overfishing but the evidence is not conclusive in that regard. From my perspective as Fisheries Minister, I can provide some practical tools through the law, to allow local communities to go and cull them.”

The consultation document on the proposed tool provides a definition of kina barrens and clearly explains they are formed by a “low abundance of predator species“.

I was concerned that our Fisheries Minister could be so poorly informed so I asked Fisheries New Zealand for:

  1. Any recent New Zealand research findings that corroborate the Minister’s statement that the cause of kina barens is inconclusive.
  2. Any ministerial advice provided to the Minister that supports his statement about the formation of kina barrens.

Fisheries New Zealand replied in detail today with recent information that has been provided to the Minister with respect to kina and kina barrens (note I have run the scanned pages through a text recognition software).

Fisheries New Zealand have clearly supplied conclusive evidence that kina barrens are related to overfishing. They have not supplied any research findings that corroborate the Minister’s statement that the cause of kina barens is inconclusive. I don’t know where Shane Jones is getting his alternative facts.

Of interest (and to his credit) Shane Jones has asked staff to increase the pace on starting pre-engagement to identify voluntary and/or regulatory measures to support increased large rock lobster abundance in areas with kina barrens (p25, detail on p21). Progress on this workstream seems to have been withheld and its clearly delayed as the other (extractive) measures mentioned have been consulted on. Two new measures that staff have suggested include a Maximum Legal Size Limit for Lobster and ‘Catch Spreading’.

While we wait for government action, millions of kina relentlessly devour our kelp forests.