An open letter to the Minister for Oceans and Fisheries.

Hon David Parker
Minister for Oceans and Fisheries

11 May 2022

Tēnā koe Minister Parker

Pāpaka / Paddle Crabs (Ovalipes catharus) are native to New Zealand. There are 10 commercial fishery areas with nearly all the catch on the East coast of the North Island. The commercial catch has been in decline for two decades with no changes to the Total Allowable Commercial Catch (TACC). The TACC is about ten times larger than the recreational and customary catch. The main fisheries (PAD 1, 2, 3, 7, 8) look like they may have collapsed, the TACC for these fisheries total 590 tonnes, landings in the 2019-20 season were only 19.2 tonnes (3% of the TACC).

I disagree that the fishery is only lightly exploited (FNZ 2021).

Commercial paddle crab landings (tonnes)

Please research the current population. If you don’t have the resources to do this then I recommend you:

  1. Dramatically reduce the TACC for Pāpaka to allow the species to recover.
  2. Reduce the daily bag limit from 50 to 5.
  3. Ban the use of nets in estuaries which kill Pāpaka and other declining species as bycatch.

Thank you


FNZ 2021. PADDLE CRABS (PAD) https://fs.fish.govt.nz/Doc/25060/55%20PAD%202021.pdf.ashx

UPDATE 19 August

Response from Hon David Parker.

The response leaves catch limits incredibly high (765 tonnes for commercial) despite acknowledging that commercial take is incredibly low. The minister assumes that the population is healthy but provides no data to justify the decision.