Clams vanish from the west coast.

New Zealand Herald 13 September, 1995

By Malcolm Pullman

"Dargaville - The massive beds of Tuatua clams from Baylys Beach left 10 commercial shellfish pickers out of work and hundreds of local clam lovers without their favorite clams. Mr. Barry Searle, a commercial clam fisher on the beach for 30 years, said the shellfish vanished almost overnight six weeks ago - in late august. He said the mullet, normally common this time of year, had also vanished.

"The ministry of fisheries policy manager, Mr. Arthur Hore, said that they had no reliable data to work with and some fisheries officers believe this has happened before. The shellfish fishers thought the clams died because of increased use of pesticides on farms and waterways, but there is nothing to back up the idea."

A widespread problem, happening over many years.

Howard Jury, President of the Whangaparaoa Rotary Club, says that when he was a boy, the cockles were so thick on the sand flats near his home he couldn't put his fingers into the sand without touching one. Today that same beach has only a few cockles. Where have they gone? Why have they gone?

Toheroa have become so rare fishing for them is prohibited almost everywhere.

Many New Zealanders, including scientists, agree that shellfish have declined on beaches in the past ten to twenty years. But until recently, few people had ever done a census of shellfish on most of New Zealand's beaches. Often, the information from studies that were done was lost.

Stories of shellfish vanishing from beaches told by older people in the community are often supported by the remains of dead shellfish along the coastline, indicating most protected beaches once did have huge numbers of shellfish.

Now, communities throughout New Zealand are invited to work with the Ministry of Fisheries, their Regional Councils and Sea Keepers to uncover the clues to the mystery of the vanishing shellfish. Together, we will work to correct the problem and restore our valued resources to good health.