Judd, who’s a former commercial freediver, used to harvest kina for a living.
He now works for Ko Waitangi te Awa Trust and the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).
Judd trained Apiata and others to freedive and collect data.
“So I reckon we’re going to have a barren here with bugger all seaweed, not much mauri, not much lifeforce, not much going on,” said Judd.
Judd is right. Few of the kina here are healthy.
“This one here’s obviously had food available to it to eat, and this [other] one shows what lack of available food looks like,” said Apiata.
Judd and Apiata’s data show the difference between areas like Deepwater Cove – where there’s a rāhui on fishing – and areas where there isn’t.
“And the difference is dramatic, like we have a massive problem with too many kina,” Judd said.
“I’ve been advised that in 7.5 hectares, 400,000 kina were extracted. It’s an industrial-sized, industrial-grade problem,” said Fisheries Minister Shane Jones.
He’s trying to rebalance the ecosystem.
“I want to empower local communities to exercise direct guardianship,” Jones told Newshub.
He wants to do that by culling kina barrens and increasing the recreational bag limit for kina, while closing more fisheries to increase the abundance of kina predators like rock lobsters.
“Being responsible kaitiaki on our moana is something we desire. We would love the ability to enact the same actions our tūpuna did,” said Apiata.
Jones said the Government doesn’t have the resources to arrest every environmental problem.
He trusts local communities to act in their own best interests.