Minister for primary industries Katrina Hodgkinson announced a seasonal closure on the commercial harvest of pipis on Friday across the state.
Ms Hodgkinson said the six-month closure is a recommendation of the cross-sector Pipi Resource Planning Group, which was formed to advise on options for the future management of pipi harvesting in NSW.
Pipis are a clam species which are found on open surf beaches.
The Greens MLC and environment spokesperson Cate Faehrmann has welcomed the temporary ban. Ms Faehrmann, who has been pushing for it for some months, said ‘the decline in pipi numbers is a real worry for the marine environment in general but particularly for the endangered pied oystercatcher which relies on pipis for food’.
Ms Hodgkinson said she had been concerned by reports from local fishermen that the NSW pipi population has dwindled rapidly in the past five to 10 years.
‘The NSW government is aware that there has been a decline in the abundance of pipis on the state’s beaches, and along the whole east coast of Australia, in waterways that are commercially harvested and those that are not.
‘Seasonal closures are an important management tool to help ensure the continued sustainability of our state’s much-valued fisheries. Fisheries officers will be on patrol along the NSW coastline to ensure commercial fishers comply with the closure,’ she said.
Recreational fishers are permitted to collect a maximum of 50 pipis for bait purposes only and not for human consumption.
Ms Hodgkinson said the abundance of pipis may depend on a range of environmental factors, including climate, habitat suitability, beach profile, oceanic dynamics, existence of algae and food sources.