Myth Busting: How the CRA 2 Commercial Fishery Actually Operates  

Crayfish are one of NZ’s most sought-after marine species, and it’s not hard to see why – they’re damn delicious! Unfortunately, whenever a high-value resource is at stake, plenty of scepticism and misinformation from competing sectors is usually not far away. 

This is the case in CRA 2 – the rock lobster fishery that extends from Te Arai in the north, through the Hauraki Gulf and the Bay of Plenty, to East Cape in the south. The area covers a substantial proportion of NZ’s recreational fishing population, including Auckland, Tauranga, and holiday hotspots such as the Coromandel. Commercial catch allowances in CRA 2 are, on average, half that of other management areas around NZ.  

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With plenty of talk around this fishery over the last few years, it’s a fitting time to dispel a few myths about how the CRA 2 commercial fishing sector actually operates.  

Myth 1 – Crayfish quota is monopolised by the big fishing corporates 

Although quota is owned and monopolised by big companies for certain fish stocks in NZ, this is not the case in CRA 2. There are 47 different CRA 2 quota share owners – many of whom are multi-generational fishing families – and the most significant quota shares are owned by Iwi organisations (37% collectively).

Myth 2 – Commercial fishers have gear in the water year-round 

Currently, only 11 fishing vessels are in CRA 2, spread throughout the large area from the north of Auckland down to East Cape. Although some camps think CRA 2 fishers have their gear in the water 365 days a year, the reality is that most operators fish intermittently for a two-four month period over the year.   

Myth 3 – Commercial manipulation is the reason why crays are so expensive to buy domestically 

Like all other produce vendors, the decision regarding whether crayfish are sold domestically or exported is purely economic. In fact, crays can be sold cheaper to domestic consumers because international air freight and packaging expenses are currently around $15/kg.  

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As a luxury food item with constrained catch limits, some New Zealand consumers will always consider crayfish expensive.

Myth 4 – The commercial sector doesn’t care about the fishery 

CRA 2 is one of the few fisheries where the commercial sector has front-footed management measures, voluntarily reducing their catch in 2016 and 2017 to rebuild crayfish numbers. Why did they do this? Well, it’s because CRA 2 fishers rely on sustainable catches for their livelihoods and, in cases of multigenerational fishing families, their children’s livelihoods.  

The CRA 2 industry has also invested heavily in research to collect the fishery data to set sustainable catch limits, and commercial fishers support best-practice fishing methods such as new pot designs to limit undersized catch and rotational fishing to spread catches over larger areas.

- CRA 2 Management Company




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