The open season for recreational fishers to gather scallops in the Marlborough Sounds and Tasman and Golden Bays starts for the year on Tuesday 15 July.
Fisheries Minister Jim Anderton is calling on scallop fishers to follow the rules when they go fishing.
“Fishers need to make sure they know the bag limits, size limits and seasons before they go fishing,” he said.
The minimum legal size for scallops in the Challenger area (see below) is 90mm measured across the widest part of the shell.
The legal bag limit for scallops is 50 per fisher per day. In addition divers are entitled to take an extra daily bag for each of up to two safety people on board a boat – provided they are acting as safety people for the divers.
Otherwise, only those actively involved in fishing are entitled to a daily bag limit. For scallop dredgers this means those who are actively involved in deploying or hauling the dredge.
“Stick to the minimum size limits, they are carefully set to make sure there will be enough scallops left for the future. Taking undersized scallops is removing the mothers and babies before they have had a chance to spawn.”
“Only take what you need, fish for a feed and not to fill the freezer. The bag limits are set to make sure there will be scallops around to catch in future years.”
Fishery officers and honorary fishery officers will be patrolling and inspecting scallop catches. Fines of $250 - $500 per offence can be imposed on fishers who ignore the rules. Serious breaches can result in the confiscation of diving gear, boats and vehicles.
Jim Anderton said fishery officers are tasked with protecting our fish stocks for future generations.
“They don’t want to write out tickets but if you ignore the rules you leave them no choice.
“If you see people taking more than their fair share you should report them to fishery officers by calling 0800 4 POACHER. They are stealing from you and from future generations.”
The scallop season will close on 14 February next year. The closure allows the scallops to spawn without being disturbed.
The Challenger Fishery Management area stretches from Awarua Point (south of Haast) on the West Coast of the South Island to Clarence River on the East Coast of the South Island taking in Golden Bay, Tasman Bay and the Marlborough Sounds.
More information on the rules for recreational fishing in the Challenger Area is available on the Ministry of Fisheries website at the following link.