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Crayfish survey in wake of Kaikoura quake

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 25/11/2016

A check on the state of Kaikoura's crayfish stocks is set to begin as researchers try to figure out what effect last weeks' magnitude 7.8 quake had on the local industry.

Last week the Ministry of Primary Industries closed the area's crayfish - or "rock lobster" - fishery for a month.

On Sunday, commercial vessels will begin dropping their lobster pots back into the water to help out the ministry, NIWA, the CRA 5 Industry Association and local iwi with their research into the health of stocks following the quake.

MPI director of fisheries management Dave Turner said the crayfish industry was worth $24 million in exports to the North Canterbury to Marlborough regions.

"The rock lobster fishery is the most valuable fishery in the Kaikoura region - culturally, as well as economically," he said.

"It's vital we get a good understanding of how it has been affected by the earthquake, so that effective management measures can be put in place once the initial one month closure ends.

He said the results of the research would determine what action needed to be taken and if further closure was needed.

Six vessels from the commercial fleet will take NIWA technicians to carry out sampling, with all crayfish caught immediately returned to the water.

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