|Current status of cockle bed restoration in New Zealand|
In: Aquaculture International. Springer: London. ISSN 0967-6120; e-ISSN 1573-143X
Austrovenus stutchburyi; Cockle beds; Transplant; Growth rates;Population structure; Closures
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The intertidal cockle Austrovenus stutchburyi, also known as tuangi or littleneck clam, is endemic to New Zealand, where it commonly occurs in sheltered sandflats and estuaries. While it is still abundant in some places, recreational collecting and habitat change have resulted in the losses of shellfish beds. This paper reviews the current status of cockle beds in New Zealand and outlines some of the methods that are being used to try to re-establish them. Cockle populations differ both within and between locations, and recent research suggests that this is often site-specific and correlated with sediment properties, salinity and contamination levels. The role of Customary Fishing Regulations and the management of Maori Marine Reserves in promoting cockles as a sustainable shellfishery is discussed, together with the role of closures. The transfer of adult stock may be the most promising technique for restoration. There is, however, a need to identify the potential risks and choose the sites carefully to ensure that shellfish are sustainable and that they improve ecosystem function.