The CRA8 Area
The CRA8 QMA is the largest of the rock lobster QMAs. It comprises South Westland, Fiordland, Stewart Island, Foveaux Strait, the Catlins and adjacent islands. While the overall area is large almost all fishing occurs within 8 kms of the shore.
also the most economically significant of the rock lobster QMAs as well as being the most valuable of any inshore QMA for any species.
At 962 tonnes the CRA8 QMA has the largest Total Allowable Commercial Catch of any of the rock lobster QMAs (36% of the national production) and as such is
The introduction of the QMS had changed the New Zealand fishing industry and had moved the focus to manging fisheries at a QMA level instead of a national level. The QMS also provided the opportunity for the formation of species- specific groups. As a result the rock lobster sub group stepped away from the NZFCF and formed the NZ Rock Lobster Industry Council (NZRLIC). Nine autonomous organisations were formed – one from each QMA. These were called CRAMACs – CRA Management Advisory Committees – and the NZRLIC executive comprised a representative of each CRAMAC.
Consequently the Southern Rock Lobster Research and Development Committee became the CRA8 Management Committee Inc. (the Committee) and on 5th July 1996 became an incorporated society. In 2016, following a review of the first 20 years of operation of the Committee, the members agreed to change the name to the
CRA8 Rock Lobster Industry Association Inc. (the Association). It was felt that the new name clearly reflected who the Association represented and its role and responsibilities. On 13th December 2016 the new name was registered with the Incorporated Societies office.
During the 1980’s and 90’s a number of sentinel events occurred that ultimately led to the formation of the CRA8 Management Committee Inc. (Now called the CRA8 Rock Lobster Industry Association Inc.)
During the 1980’s fishermen were represented through Port Associations, where members of the various fisheries in a port came together to advocate on issues of generic interest to that area. These Port Associations made up the New Zealand Federation of Commercial Fishermen. Additionally the rock lobster fishery was represented by a sub group of the NZFCF.
In the south the first time the rock lobster industry, via the Port Associations, came together as a representative unit was in response to a proposed change to the minimum temperature requirements for vessel freezers, obstensively to meet exporting standards requirements. This was a very important issue as at that time all rock lobsters were tailed prior to packing for export. For fishermen who fished away from local ports this necessitated freezing the tails at sea on board their vessels. Fishermen advocated that what was proposed was simply not obtainable on vessels with the technology of that time.
Soon after this, another major issue arose that resulted in the formation of a more formal group called the Southern Rock Lobster Research and Development Committee: the government of the day proposed a change of method of minimum size measure from measuring the length of the tail to one where a minimum width would be used to determine if a lobster
was of legal size. Standard measures for both male and female lobsters that would
be the same for all of the country, except
the Otago area, were proposed. This would have had a significant effect on the amount of rock lobsters caught and subsequently sold from the southern area as tail width for female lobsters is influenced by the onset of sexual maturity and this is in turn influenced by water temperature: warmer water (as is the case in the North Island) results in an earlier onset of maturity than in the south where the colder water delays maturity and the expansion in tail width. Relief from this was sought and ultimately following a High Court case the difference was recognised and enshrined resulting in the CRA8 area having a narrower minimum tail width than the national standard.
In 1990 rock lobsters were introduced into the Quota Management System. With this came the establishment of areas known as Quota Management Areas (QMAs). A total of 10 QMAs were established, although only nine have ever only been recognised as commercial fishing areas. The southern and Fiordland area became known as CRA8. Quota was allocated to fishermen who had a history of fishing in a specific QMA. A fisherman who wanted to fish in CRA8 was required to hold CRA8 quota, either through owning that quota or leasing it from a CRA8 quota owner.
Despite the introduction of quota as the 1990’s progressed it was clear to many in the CRA8 industry that the fishery was in trouble.
The Southern Rock Lobster Research and Development Committee turned its attention to advocating for a change in management strategy which would arrest the decline in the fishery and return it to a
sustainable level. At an organisational level this required a more formal arrangement.
The Association has 155 members comprising quota owners, processors and general (non-quota owning) industry members. It is funded by an annual levy from quota owners.
It is governed by a board of 11:
The objectives of the Association are:
The Association has also adopted the following Vision Statement:
“That the CRA8 industry continues to be a national leader in sustainable rock lobster fisheries management. Advancing the interface between commercial fisheries and marine environmental integrity is critical in maximising the economic return for members and the nation from a limited natural resource.”
As a result the role of the Association has expanded greatly since its inception. Ongoing monitoring and development of appropriate management strategies (more formally known as Management Procedures) remains a major focus for the Association. The objective of the CRA8 Management Procedure is to maintain a very high abundance of rock lobsters of all sizes. In turn this provides the opportunity for the fishermen to maximize their financial return by choosing when to fish and by catching the sizes that are most in demand at any particular time.
Protection of the property right that quota provides, as well as access to the productive fishing grounds that is inherent in this right, is another important function. It advocates on behalf of the CRA8 industry in numerous forums which necessitates regular contact with other groups within the fishing industry and non-commercial sectors as well as MPI and other central and local government departments.
In addition it has a major focus on research. It is a contracted research data provider to NRLIC and has commissioned three significant research projects in recent years in conjunction with Seafood Innovations Ltd and funding partners. The New Zealand Institute for Plant & Food Research Ltd (Plant & Food) has carried out the studies that have contributed to the development of best practice guidelines from the time of harvest to the point of export. While a project carried out by the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) has improved the understanding of the changes in nutritional condition and physiology that occur throughout the year.
Members of the CRA8 industry have been instrumental in the development of a number of significant environmental initiatives including: the establishment of the first two marine reserves in Fiordland; the Fiordland (Te Moana o Atawhenua) Marine Management Act 2005; and the southern coastal clean-ups.
The CRA8 Industry
The industry began in earnest after the end of World
War 2 as a response to an increase in demand for frozen tails from the USA. The fishery at that time was a “virgin biomass” ie: a fishery that was unfished to that point in time.
As a result high catches of very large rock lobsters occurred resulting in annual catches estimated to be in excess of 3,500 tonnes by the early 1950’s. By 1960 catches had reduced and then fluctuated between 1,500 tonnes to 2,600 tonnes annually until 1987 where they dropped further to approximately 800 tonnes. During this time vessel numbers had increased to a peak of 340 before dropping to 160 by 1987. It is now clear that high level of effort expended by vessel operators over this time held the annual catch at an unsustainable level until it inevitably dropped.
Catches then fluctuated before being reduced to 567 tonnes in 2002. From that point the fishery rebuilt rapidly to a point where by 2007 it was assessed as being sustainable.
Today the Total Allowable Commercial Catch is 962 tonnes.
There are currently 68 vessels operating in the CRA8 area. About half are manned by a skipper and one crewman and the balance by a skipper and two crewmen.
The fishing year runs from 1st April to the 31st March of the following year. Fishing is permitted during all of this time.
Processing and Exporting Companies
There are five companies that process and export CRA8 lobsters
• CRA8 Fisheries
• Fiordland Lobster Co Ltd
• Live Lobster Southland Ltd
• Ngai Tahu Seafood Processors Ltd
• Southern Seafoods Ltd
During the 1990’s demand from the USA for tails declined. This necessitated the development of new markets which founded the live export of lobsters to Japan and Taiwan. Today China is the most important market for CRA8 lobsters, with 96% of all lobsters landed in CRA8 sent live to China and a number of other minor markets. A small domestic market accounts for the balance of the landings.
© NZ Rock Lobster Industry Council Ltd