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MPI welcomes paua rescue, not harvest

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 21/11/2016
Paua and crayfish stranded after the earthquake © RNZ/Simon Morton Paua and crayfish stranded after the earthquake

People claiming to be saving paua may actually be harvesting them, the Minstry for Primary Industries fears.

The ocean floor shifted by metres in some places near Kaikoura after last week's devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake, leaving thousands of paua out of the water and facing death.

MPI compliance director David Wansbrough says they're concerned about the future of the paua fisheries and want people to try and save them.

"We're worried about people doing a bit more harvesting than rescuing and so we'll just keep an eye on that," he said.

Mr Wansbrough said there had been some reports of harvesting, and as a result MPI has a presence in the area to make sure that doesn't happen.

But he has welcomed help from those wanting to save the paua, despite reports of clashes between volunteers and MPI officials over the weekend.

Officials reportedly told about 300 volunteers to stop moving paua on Saturday or they would be arrested.

Mr Wansbrough said MPI welcomed help from people rescuing paua above the high tide line.

"If they're between high and low tide they'll come in and out of water and the paua hopefully will recover and be able to move themselves to deeper water and they'll form the basis of the next population, so we really want them to be looked after," he said.

It's not known how many paua have died since the quake.

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