Northlanders have not been gluttonous so far this season when it comes to kaimoana, a fisheries official says.
Ministry for Primary Industries Fisheries Compliance Upper North Island regional manager Stephen Rudsdale said, in general, Northlanders on the water had been well-behaved in terms of sticking to their seafood limits and sizes.
"It's been pretty good. The biggest issue we have in Whangārei is harvesting scallops in the Whangārei Harbour. We do tend to get a larger percentage offending with scallops than other areas."
Rudsdale said Whangārei is virtually the only place left to get scallops in the region with environmental reasons believed to have drastically reduced numbers elsewhere in Northland.
However, he said scallops had been more plentiful this year, compared to others.
"But I imagine that will decrease as the season continues, especially with more visitors likely to the region over the holiday period due to not being able to go overseas."
The scallop limit is 20 per person per day, with a further 20 allowed each for up to two safety people onboard a vessel (a maximum of 60 for three-plus people) with a minimum size of 100mm.
A recent two-day patrol in the Far North targeting packhorse lobster turned up particularly good results.
"We carried out a large number of inspections across two days involving 86 vessels and of those vessels there were only three warnings mainly for undersize packhorse cray," he said.
The third warning was for being in possession of egg-carrying packhorse lobster. Rock lobster are commonly referred to as crayfish in New Zealand.
Packhorse rock lobsters are one of the two types of lobster in New Zealand. While the packhorse is green, it is larger (in fact the largest in the world) than the red spiny rock lobster so they, therefore, have different legal size limits with the Packhorse measured by the length of the tail (216mm minimum) and the Red Rock Lobster across the width with different measurements between males (54mm) and females (60mm).
It is also illegal to take pregnant females with most visibly externally carrying (up to one million at a time depending on locality and size) eggs on the tail at this time of year. The legal combined species lobster limit is six per person with an infringement of $250 for both excess and undersize lobster.
"Most people are aware of the rules," said Rudsdale. "Good divers can tell underneath [the water] whether it's legal or not. We would expect people not to bring any more than their daily limit to the surface."
He added MPI recognises that the majority of people follow the rules and their aim is to ensure people are aware of the rules and regulations.
"Where people don't understand the rules, we're trying to focus on reminding them of their responsibilities to help them learn. We try to educate first and, in some cases, issue warnings, taking into consideration factors such as first-time offences and the severity of the offending."
As for other finfish and shellfish; per person, the legal limit is seven snapper, plus a combined bag limit of 20 for other varieties such as trevally, kahawai and tarakihi.
Pipi, cockles and tuatua are limited to 150 per person, oysters – 250, kina – 50, mussels – 50 and paua – 10 with a minimum size of 125mm.
# Check the fishing rules for your area by downloading the free smartphone NZ Fishing rules app by texting 9889 or by scanning the QR code. The app works even without WIFI coverage. Or go to the website: www.mpi.govt.nz.
Free text the name of the species you are fishing for (eg. blue cod or paua) to 9889 and receive legal size and bag limit via return text.
# Report poaching, suspicious or illegal activity to 0800 4 POACHER (0800 476 224).