Exporting seafood remains a clear priority

Last year, Kaikōura locals collected less than 3% of the total amount of pāua exported to foreign shores. These pāua were enjoyed by Kiwi families and friends. Meanwhile, more than 500,000 kilos of pāua are exported from New Zealand every year. China receives over half of these exports. Serving pāua in overseas restaurants is obviously taking priority over feeding Kiwis.
It’s no wonder that Kiwis are increasingly concerned about the Government’s intentions and whether their decisions are blurred by dollar signs.
Pāua collected by locals are a taonga (treasure). Feeding our own people ought to be a priority over the economic returns from exporting our prized shellfish.
Since taking office, the Minister for Oceans and Fisheries, Shane Jones, has championed an export-led economic recovery from our fisheries, so we have plenty of reason to be concerned if he decides on a short recreational open season of only two months in 2024.
Just to be clear, if the issue was regarding overharvest, the use of bag limit cuts and limited seasons would be understandable. But when it is letting the private sector profit from a publicly owned resource while the public has limited access, we have serious reservations.
Science shows that the Kaikōura pāua fishery is relatively abundant. We also know that Kiwis are struggling with interest rates and fuel costs. Therefore, healthy kai needs to be affordable and accessible. It’s unreasonable to expect us to buy back our own seafood at export prices, paying more than $100 per kilo of pāua.
Sustaining our precious marine resources and feeding Kiwi families must be prioritised.