Catch limit changes for important fish species – hoki and orange roughy
22 September 2010
Ministry of Fisheries Chief Executive Wayne McNee has today announced changes to commercial fishing catch limits for two of New Zealand’s most important export fish species – hoki and orange roughy. These changes come from sustainability decisions made by the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture.
An orange roughy fishery off the north-west coast of the South Island will reopen, having been closed for the last decade.
The commercial catch of hoki will increase by 10,000 tonnes, moving from 110,000 to 120,000 tonnes.
“After taking decisive action in the past to reduce catches and allow fishstocks to rebuild, we’re now reaping the benefits of strong fisheries management. This management is an ongoing process of review and adjustment,” Mr McNee said.
New Zealand has two hoki stocks, the eastern and western. The western hoki stock has been recovering strongly in recent years after a period of low recruitment (young fish entering the fishery) which required large reductions in catch. The western stock is now well within its target range.
The eastern stock has always been healthy and has never dropped below the management target range.
Scientific modelling shows the hoki stock has recovered and will continue to grow even with the 10,000 tonne increase.
The orange roughy fishery on the Challenger Plateau, an area north-west of the South Island, will re-open with a conservative catch limit of 500 tonnes.
The fishery has been closed since October 2000 after fish numbers dropped to an unacceptable level. The closure has allowed the fishery to rebuild at the maximum possible rate.
“The Minister carefully considered the latest science and management information and decided to reopen the fishery with a cautious catch limit of 500 tonnes per year,” Mr McNee said.
“It is very pleasing that the 10-year closure has helped this fishery to recover to the point where we can reopen it. We will monitor this fishery closely to make sure catches are sustainable and the fishery continues to rebuild.”
“The recovery of these two fisheries is very pleasing and shows previous fisheries management decisions have been effective,” Mr McNee said. “However, difficult decisions had to be made to reduce catch limits when the scientific information supports them, and this has happened for Chatham Rise orange roughy.”
The orange roughy fishery on the Chatham Rise has shown a continuing decrease in fish numbers. A rebuilding strategy has been phased in over the last three years and has resulted in this third, and largest, reduction to the catch limit.
The Total Allowable Catch will be reduced by 3,510 tonnes, from 8,350 to 4,840 tonnes.
“I commend the industry for their continued support for these significant catch reductions and their co-operation with research into this fishery. We will continue to monitor the fishery closely to make sure these reductions will be effective; if they are not, further action will be taken,” Mr McNee said.
“The Minister carefully considered the best scientific and management information available, as well as submissions from customary, recreational and commercial fishers, environmental groups and the public before making these decisions.”
The changes take effect on 1 October 2010. Further information will be made available on the Ministry of Fisheries website.
Hoki is New Zealand’s third most valuable seafood export after mussels and rock lobster, earning $152 million in the 2009 calendar year. Orange roughy came in sixth at $51 million.