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Encouraging signs for quake paua

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 28/11/2016

The early signs are encouraging for stranded paua moved back into the sea after Kaikoura's earthquake lifted the seabed out of the water.

Thousands of paua left above the waterline were relocated to the sea in the wake of November 14's 7.8-magnitude quake in an effort to save them.

A government scientist says an inspection of the paua beds along the coast was heartening and they appeared to be doing well.

"It will be a while before we know for sure if they have taken to their new environment," fisheries scientist Julie Hills said.

She said paua had the ability to evolve to fit a changed environment but warned that adaptation will take time.

"It can sometimes take many, many years. This area of Kaikoura's coast will need careful treatment and management for some time to come," said Dr Hills.

The earthquake raised the region's seabed by up to 4m in places in an area nearly 100km long, leaving a large number of paua stranded and dying above the ocean waterline.

The government has closed the shellfish fishery along the coast for three months.

Volunteers, local iwi and Ministry of Primary Industries had combined to save as much of the molluscs as possible and work was still continuing.

"This has been a true collaboration between iwi, volunteers, industry and government and I'm so proud to have been part of it," said Mike Vincent, founder of the paua rescue group.

The government has also put together a $2 million science package to better understand the quake's ongoing impact to Kaikoura's marine life.

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