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Amateur harvest of rock lobster in Northland

The amateur harvest of red and packhorse rock lobster was estimated using creel surveys from 1 April 2013 to 31 March 2014. All main and most secondary access points were covered on the Northland Coast from Rangiputa to Mangawhai Heads. The harvest estimate expanded to the CRA 1 management area was 42 t of red rock lobster and 5 t of packhorse rock lobster.

Funding: Ministry for Primary Industries
Researcher: Blue Water Marine Research

A survey of recreational fishers in East Northland was undertaken to estimate boat based amateur harvest for rock lobster using onsite interviews at most access points.  The spatial scale of the survey, spread along 500 km of coastal roads that are often not well connected, presented some challenges. A mix of all day coverage at main boat ramps and roving coverage of access points along a defined route were used on 60 survey days in the year from 1 April 2013.

A total of 12 174 boat trips were observed, including vessels not intercepted and trailers at the end of survey days at main ramps.  Completed interviews show 68% of trips involved some fishing activity and 1.4% of fishers refused to be interviewed. For almost all rock lobster intercepted a tail width (measured in millimetres) and the sex of the fish were recorded. Length weight regressions were used to estimate the harvest in tonnes.

Rock lobster is an important component of amateur harvest in Northland, probably 5th in harvest weight behind snapper, kahawai, yellowtail kingfish and trevally. Harvest in this survey was taken mainly by SCUBA and free divers from October to January in 2013–14.  Areas close to the population centres around Whangarei and Bay of Islands had the most fishing effort. Overall the harvest rate for rock lobster fishers in this survey was 1.6 per person per trip including unsuccessful trips.

The green weight harvest estimate  by boat based amateur fishers in the survey area for red rock lobster was 25.4 t; kahawai 167 t; trevally 41 t; red gurnard 4 t; and 5 t packhorse rock lobster.  This was scaled up for all of the CRA 1 area and for landbased methods using data from the National Panel Survey.  The expanded rock lobster harvest estimate for all CRA 1 is 37.3 tonnes.  A further 4.4 tonnes was taken as recreational harvest by commercial fishers under s111 in 2013–14, giving a total estimate of 41.7 t for CRA 1.

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