of Fisheries media release
The Ministry of Fisheries
has today released a consultation paper on catch limits for “attached”
bladder kelp on the east coast of the South Island and on the Chatham
The government announced last year that bladder kelp attached to substrate
- usually the sea floor - in these areas would be introduced to the Quota
Management System (QMS) on 1 October 2010.
“Seaweeds play an important role in the aquatic ecosystem, providing food,
habitat and shelter for other marine animals,” said Leigh Mitchell,
Ministry of Fisheries Inshore Fisheries Manager. “Internationally seaweeds
also support sometimes large and highly valuable sustainable fisheries.
“The consultation paper contains a range of catch limit options for
bladder kelp in the two areas. The options have been developed after
careful review of the best available information and are deliberately
cautious to ensure sustainability, given the ecological importance of this
species, while allowing opportunity for development.”
The consultation process
will run for six weeks to provide people with a good opportunity to have
their say on the catch limits proposed.
The government is likely make a decision in the middle of this year.
Bladder kelp, Macrocystis
pyrifera, also known as giant kelp, is a brown seaweed that forms
extensive undersea forests. Plants can grow from depths of 30 metres to
the sea surface where they form extensive floating canopies.
It is found in many areas
of both the northern (Alaska, California) and southern (South America, New
Zealand) hemispheres and is usually attached to the rocky ocean floor.
It is the fastest growing
organism on Earth, and can reach up to 60 metres in length in the northern
hemisphere in one growing season. This is the time when environmental
conditions such as light and nutrients are at their optimum levels that
encourage kelp growth.
Bladder kelp grows more
slowly in the southern hemisphere than the northern hemisphere but can
still achieve between one and 15 millimetres a day and heights around 30
to 40 metres.
In New Zealand the species
is distributed patchily, but its range extends from Cook Strait southwards
and around the Chatham Islands.