Young shellfish appear again on Cheltenham Beach after
six years absence

Place: Cheltenham Beach Neighbourhood: part of Devonport
City: North Shore Regional council: Auckland

For the first time since 1992, young tuangi (clam or cockle) were found to have just settled on Cheltenham Beach. They were located and their numbers assessed by locals during the late summer monitoring survey run by the Cheltenham Beach Caretakers.

 "This is very exciting because it means that the population on this beach is building up. " says Georgina Greville, co-ordinator of the Caretakers. "We were worried about why there were no new baby shellfish. Seeing them here again is a relief."

Marine life on the mudflats on Cheltenham Beach is protected from harvesting by both fishing regulations of Ministry of Fisheries (MoF) and a rahui of  Ngati Paoa (see "headline from previous news item from Cheltenham" for more information).  Although the public have by and large been very supportive of the ban, the shellfish bed was not recovering well.

The shellfish were growing in size but not in number due to a number of unidentified factors. The absence of new young shellfish (known as recruits) meant that the bed could not survive in the long term. Sustainable harvesting by humans would not be at all possible.

But why the recruits are here now, rather than last year, is still a mystery. The effect of pollution, especially from stormwater, has not been studied here. Also, just where the recruits actually come from is still unknown. Some species of shellfish young are known to float for many kilometres before settling down on a beach. Other species stay very close to where their parents live. What tuangi do is not clear.

To find out requires fitting together many pieces of the puzzle. Sampling continues at Cheltenham every six months (contact Georgine or Scott for more info).  Specialists at Leigh Marine Lab are asking locals throughout the upper North Island to check their beach for recruits (see" shellifsh alert article").  More shellfish beds need to be monitored: there are ways for locals to take the initiative here ( see " byway of the weka number 1" in archive)

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