It was alarming to read about the shocking state of the Bay's crayfish stocks last week.

Words such as "devastated" and "collapsed" were used to describe the fishery after the Minister of Fisheries announced new limits for commercial, recreational and customary fishing for the Hauraki Gulf and Bay of Plenty in a bid to preserve stocks.

There was little objection to the move, which perhaps reflects the worrying state of the fishery.

Read more: New crayfish limits could help relieve Bay's collapsed fishery


In fact, it has been welcomed by local divers, LegaSea and the New Zealand Sport Fishing Council.

Bay divers say it's increasingly rare for divers to catch a crayfish on their excursions.

Mount Maunganui Underwater Club captain Russ Hawkins says 12 club members caught four crayfish between them during recent excursions - that was a "good day".

It's not uncommon for club members to come back empty-handed - a stock assessment carried out last year reveals why.

It shows crayfish numbers are at a historic low, with only 5 per cent of male and 18 per cent of the female population in the water now compared to the estimated size of the unfished crayfish population.

The sea's bounty is not an infinite resource, and some stocks are under incredible pressure.

Most fishers and shellfish collectors take only what they need, but the situation is compounded by a small percentage who abuse the system - taking way more than the law allows.

Given the current situation, a hard line should be taken with those who break the law.


The new limits will help - hopefully, they have been introduced in time to allow stocks to recover.

The collective agreement that this resource needs to be preserved provides at least some hope for the future of the fishery.