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Fisheries are still rescuing Kaikoura paua

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 23/11/2016

Authorities and volunteers are still rescuing stranded paua from the South Island's quake-stricken eastern coast.

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

However, MPI Deputy Director-General Ben Dalton said fisheries scientists, local iwi and volunteers had found paua in Goose Bay, Kaikoura, who could still be saved.

"The earthquake has had a dramatic effect on the seabed, which has had a devastating effect on local paua population", Dalton says.

"Nowhere in the world has anyone experienced or been able to research the immediate impacts on shellfish survival in the intertidal and sub-tidal zones following a major earthquake.

"We intend to support a careful, science-based relocation effort for these paua," he said.

"We will also work with the locals to identify other areas where relocation may be (the) best option."

While thanking volunteers for their help, Mr Dalton asked people not to relocate paua unless they were participating in a supervised program.

He said any paua found permanently above the high tide mark had already died, while unsupervised attempts to relocate other paua could prove more harmful to the animals than leaving them be.

The government's temporary closure of paua harvesting in the area remains in place, while it 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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