A bold plan to put a rāhui on collecting pāua from a popular Hawke's Bay beach for two years appears to be working, the local hapū says.
It has been a little over a year since a two-year rāhui was put on the collection of Blackfoot pāua along the Waimārama coastline.
The rāhui, requested by Ngāi Hapū o Waimārama, in a bid to give the popular coastline two years to replenish from the plundering its pāua stocks can take each summer.
The rāhui covers the rohe moana (area) of the hapū which is 24km along the east coast from Whakapau Pt in the north to Te Rahui at Huarau in the south.
Locals say the beach and diving spots are quite easy to get to, being close to two of Hawke's Bay's larger cities, and the pressure had only increased in the years before the rāhui.
Ngāi Hapū o Waimārama Kaitiaki Moana Bayden Barber said one year in, the rāhui is doing what it had set out to do.
"We are happy to see that people seem to be respecting the rāhui," Barber said.
Barber said he had also seen an increase in MPI compliance officers patrolling the area under the rāhui and the hapū were thankful for the additional support.
MPI regional manager fish compliance Tyrone Robinson said MPI fishery officers were regularly patrolling the Waimārama area.
"Since the rāhui was put in place, compliance has been good with no pāua fisheries offences detected," Robinson said.
Robinson said people in the Waimārama area were "very aware of the rāhui, which is pleasing".
While Robinson said it was too early to say whether there has been an increase in the health of pāua in the area, local iwi had seen the difference during their own surveillance.
Barber said a group had been surveying dive spots, checking the size and number of pāua.
While the signs show that the pāua stocks are replenishing it is too early to know if a two-year rāhui is long enough, he said.
"There is a possibility of an extended rāhui, and we will be looking at reducing the daily number of pāua a person is allowed to take."
When it was first put in place there were concerns it could lead to a greater pressure on pāua stocks at beaches north and south.
He said it was possible people were travelling further but there was "no certain link" between the Waimārama rāhui and any depletion of other area's pāua stocks.
And in fact the connection that the Kaitiaki Moana for Ngāi Hapū o Waimārama had made with MPI could help other hapū work on creating similar rāhui, he said.
Barber said he would help other hapū and is open to having discussions about coastal water and fishery stock management.
An iwi-wide approach to managing kaimoana, to future proof it from the pressure the coast was currently facing, was something he was pushing for, he said.
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