Sustainable management of freshwater crayfish (kōura, Paranephrops planifrons) in Te Arawa (Rotorua) lakes, North Island, New Zealand

TitleSustainable management of freshwater crayfish (kōura, Paranephrops planifrons) in Te Arawa (Rotorua) lakes, North Island, New Zealand
Publication TypeJournal
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsKusabs, I.
Secondary AuthorsHicks, B., Quinn J., & Hamilton D.
KeywordsClosed season; Fecundity; Regulations; Size at onset of breeding; Size limit; Slot limit
Abstract

Freshwater crayfish or kōura (Paranephrops planifrons White, 1842) support important customary fisheries for Te Arawa iwi (tribal members) in the Te Arawa lakes, North Island, New Zealand. Until recently, however, there was limited published information on which to base fisheries regulations. We sampled over 9000 kōura in eight lakes using a traditional Māori harvesting method known as the tau kōura, which comprised bundles of bracken fern fronds (Pteridium esculentum) laid on the lake bed. We examined the catch rates and biological traits of kōura in the Te Arawa lakes and the implications for the current fishing regulations and kōura management. Kōura were present in all of the study lakes except Ōkaro, but harvestable quantities were only found in Rotorua, Rotomā and Rotoiti. The overall ratio of females to males was about 1:1. Egg-bearing kōura were found throughout the year, but only occasionally during the summer months. Kōura fecundity increased as a power function of orbit-carapace length (OCL). Size at onset of breeding for 50% of females, in lakes where kōura were present, ranged from 22.1 mm OCL to 27.5 mm OCL. In addition to existing regulations, the following management measures are recommended: (1) implementing a slot limit with a minimum size of 28 mm and a maximum size of 39 mm OCL, (2) banning the taking of egg-bearing kōura, (3) limiting deep-water harvest methods to the use of the tau kōura, and (4) implementing a tau kōura harvest season beginning on 1 December and ending on 31 March.