Orange roughy a New Zealand success story
1 December 2003
The Ministry of Fisheries has rubbished a news report suggesting the New Zealand orange roughy fishery is a model of how not to manage deep sea fisheries.
"Scare tactics by Australian environmentalists don't change the fact that New Zealand is one of the few countries in the world that continues to harvest orange roughy sustainably", said Chief Scientist, Dr John Annala at the Deep Sea conference in Queenstown today.
In fact orange roughy is one of the true success stories of the quota management system, and the joint report by Traffic Oceania and the WWF Endangered Seas Programme, released last week, acknowledges this in a case study on the Chatham Rise fishery.
The Traffic/WWF Report states: " The North-East Chatham Rise stock, after having declined to a minimum of between 25-35% (of pre-fished biomass) in the early 1990s, is currently assessed as having rebuilt to a level above that required to support (maximum sustainable yield) and to be rebuilding at current catch levels. This is supported by both the NIWA assessment and the industry-funded assessments carried out by (Australian research organisation) CSIRO."
"It's true that we can lament how orange roughy has been fished out in some other parts of the world, said Dr Annala. "The Ministry also acknowledges that in the mid 1980s we knew very little about orange roughy and the very conservative total allowable catches set at the time turned out to be unsustainable.
"Subsequent research showed orange roughy was a very unusual species, long-lived and slow to reproduce. When we found this out we took major action, developing a 20-year re-build strategy. That strategy has been enormously successful and has seen stocks recover to or towards sustainable levels.
"An independent review in 2001 showed we are on track - a testament to tough decision-making and the robustness of the quota management system that allows us to take tough actions in response to scientific evidence."
Dr Annala said it was difficult to comment on how other countries manage orange roughy fisheries. "Orange roughy is a difficult species to manage, but if other countries want a model they only have to look to New Zealand."
For further information please contact Dr John Annala, (mobile) 027 443 1054
News media advisory note
Dr Annala will be presenting a case study on New Zealand orange roughy management at the Deep Sea 2003 Conference, Queenstown, 10am, Thursday 4 December 2003.