18 Dec 2020

Coromandel locals take scallop decline crisis into their own hands

From Afternoons, 1:50 pm on 18 December 2020

A rapid decline in the scallop populations on the eastern side of the Coromandel Peninsula has seen locals place a rāhui on taking scallops this summer.

Ngāti Hei kaumatua Joe Davis explains to Jesse why a lack of official action to address the situation has led to the locals stepping in.

“We’re noticing how bad it is, and the locals are too. It’s been a concern for a few years and we needed to do something to create some awareness about the numbers that are coming down.

“We need to begin some sort of process to look at how we might be able to restore or enhance – the numbers will probably never get back to the way they used to be – but we need to do something that’s heading in that direction.”

He says that for a long time locals would be able to go down to the beach after a big storm and collect enough washed up scallops for a decent meal.

“The last decent wash up was about seven or eight years ago. Those sorts of phenomena just don’t happen anymore,” he says.

Davis says it’s not just scallops in the Coromandel, they’ve noticed mussels and crayfish have taken a hit too. Landcare research also showed bird populations are dwindling which points to a deficiency in the ocean.  

“Coromandel’s a terrible place to go fishing now.”

Ngāti Hei has put a moratorium on taking scallops and Davis hopes that recreational and commercial fishers will follow suit.

“It’s about public awareness now and trying to get the message out there that there’s something wrong and we need to try bring the fishery back as much as we can.”