6 Dec 2022

Group plans further legal action against govt after landmark decision on crayfish catch limits

2:54 pm on 6 December 2022
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Environmental Law Initiative says it now working on legal action alleging that aspects of managing protected species may be unlawful. (file image) Photo: 123rf

Further legal action will be taken against the government surrounding the protection of sea habitats and the species which rely on them, says a marine conservation group.

Last week, the High Court ruled the government was allowing too many crayfish to be caught around Northland when it set the total allowable catch limit set in the past two years, because it was not given enough information about the negative effects on the underwater ecosystem.

Environmental Law Initiative (ELI) and Te Uri O Hikihiki hapū senior policy adviser Ingrid O'Sullivan said its case confirmed the minister was not told there would be a rise in the number of kina, which crayfish ate, and they could destroy kelp beds which were like a nursery for many sea life.

The impact of harvesting crayfish was not taken into account and the judge ordered the minister re-make his decision while taking into account that information, O'Sullivan said.

Fisheries Minister David Parker was approached for comment. A spokesperson for his office said the judgment was currently being considered and no decision had been made as to whether or not to appeal.

The Environmental Law Initiative (ELI) hoped this landmark court decision about crayfish catch numbers would lead to better overall management of Fisheries New Zealand, O'Sullivan said.

"She says ELI is really pleased the court recognised those parts of the Fisheries Act that have been basically ignored until now are important when it comes to making decisions about Total Allowable Catch quotas, and that better advice will be given in the future."

The group was now working on legal action alleging that aspects of managing protected species - such as dolphins and sea birds - might be unlawful, including the way reporting on bycatch was conducted, O'Sullivan said.

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