New Zealand Red Rock Lobster
CRA6 Fishery Management and Statistical Areas
The region designated as CRA 6 is geographically very large, being all waters within a 200 nautical mile radius of the Chatham Islands and Bounty Islands, but the area being fished is restricted to a relatively narrow coastal margin adjacent to the Chatham Islands coastline.
Previous RLFAWG reports have noted that the CRA 6 data are consistent with a stock model in which the biomass being fished is much smaller than the biomass of the contributing stock. The abundance of the standing stock in CRA 6 is possibly more dependent on immigration of larger lobsters into the area than it is on recruitment and growth.
The most recent formal stock assessment was in 1996 (Breen & Kendrick 1998). This used alternative methods, including a depletion model and a constant-production model. Both models assumed a constant level of annual productivity is independent of the stock size and thus outside the realm of Bmsy approaches.
The TAC for CRA 6 has remained unchanged since 1998, but was less than 95% caught from 1990-2004 (except for 2000, on 95%). Since 2005 it has been 98% caught. CPUE has increased steadily by 25% since 1999.
The relation between the current stock size and a target level is unknown.
For the 1998/99 fishing year a TAC of 370 tonnes was set. A total of 6 tonnes was set aside for amateur catch and 4 tonnes was provided for customary catch. The TACC was reduced from 400 tonnes to 360 tonnes in response to MFish concerns over declining landings and declining CPUE. The TAC and TACC remain unchanged since April 1998.
CRA 6 is unique in that unlike all other CRA management areas, two harvest methods are allowed for commercial fishing. The bulk of the TACC is landed from vessels using pots, but there are limited numbers of method concessions issued for the fishery and divers take
quantities of lobsters in the summer months.
There are 50 CRA 6 quota share owners. Mainland New Zealand interests own the majority of quota. There are currently 35 vessels reporting CRA 6 landings and the number of divers is unknown although only 5 of the original method exemptions issued to qualifying persons between 1990 and 1993 were current during 2013/14. Additional divers operate under the authority of permits in the name of the consent holders.
The landed value of the commercial catch in 2013/14 was approximately $23.9 million (based on average port price paid to fishermen). The fishery supplies processing and export facilities on the Chatham Islands and in Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch.
The CRA 6 Industry Association established a Fishermen’s Office at Waitangi in May 2000 and the NZ RLIC contracted an administrative officer trained by FishServe to co-ordinate the distribution and collation of Catch Effort Landing Returns and Monthly Harvest Reports for delivery to FishServe and to provide a range of additional administrative services to the Chatham Islands seafood industry.
There is no major research programme currently underway for the fishery because all previous research initiatives — intensive catch sampling, tagging, and juvenile abundance surveys — have delivered similar results. There are also high costs associated with research co-ordinated from the mainland. However, the CRA 6 Industry Association is managing a Vessel Logbook programme, such as used in CRA 2, CRA 5, and CRA 8, to collect size frequency and abundance information.
© NZ Rock Lobster Industry Council Ltd