Estimating historic effects from sedimentation and fishing, Nelson Bays (innovation fund)

Tasman and Golden Bays

Nelson Bays used to support productive scallop, oyster and green-lipped mussel fisheries, which have each collapsed within the last 10–50 years. A review into their decline highlighted sedimentation and bottom contact fishing as potential factors. This project will quantify the fishery losses attributed to historic and contemporary sediment from land, and identify the land-uses the sediment derived from. It will also investigate the additive effects of bottom contact fishing.

Project leader: Sean Handley, NIWA

Investigating the historical collapses of Nelson Bays' fisheries

Because fishing is widespread and trawling and dredging homogenise (make the same) soft sediment habitats, finding control sites to test for the effects of fishing is difficult. Fortunately, between Golden and Tasman Bays there is a 146 km2 of seabed that has been protected from the use of synthetic nets and shellfish dredges for more than 30 years: the Separation Point Power Fishing Exclusion Zone (EZ). This site offers a unique laboratory to study the effects of fishing disturbance and sedimentation.

We are:

  • Quantifying the losses attributed to historic and contemporary sediments derived from land
  • Quantifying which land-use cover they were derived from, using a NIWA sediment ‘finger-printing’ method
  • Testing for the additive effects of bottom contact fishing methods to sediment structure and the mollusc species (eg scallops) response

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