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Fisheries closed on quake-affected coast

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 21/11/2016

The government has announced the temporary closure of crayfish and other shellfish fisheries along the earthquake-affected east coast of the South Island.

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy says local jobs will be affected but he had no choice.

"If I didn't do this, I would be back in a few months saying the fisheries would have to be closed for longer," he said on Monday.

The crayfish fishery, with an annual harvest worth around $23 million, has been closed for a month.

Paua, worth around $1.5m, and other shellfish fisheries have been closed for three months.

Mr Guy says last Monday's quake had a devastating impact on the coastline, raising it by up to four metres in places in an area nearly 100km long.

Before announcing the closures he talked to local fishers and iwi.

"I acknowledge this is disappointing for locals but most people realise we need to protect this resource for the long term," he said.

"When you have 50 per cent to 70 per cent of the overall biomass high and dry and now unfortunately rotting, that's a real concern to me and to the fishers I've spoken to."

Mr Guy also announced a $2 million scientific investigation, funded by the government.

"We need to get the scientists in there to find out what is happening," he said.

"They will investigate the impact of the earthquake on the coastal environment, assess remaining fisheries resources and develop recovery measures."

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