5.3 Fisheries sector
Despite the diversity in marine species found in the New Zealand EEZ, as few as 130 are fished commercially. Of these, only 43 species are commercially significant. The deepwater species (hoki, hake, ling, orange roughy, oreo dories, squid, and silver warehou) as well as spiny red rock lobster, paua (abalone), greenshell mussels, and snapper dominate the fishing industry. The following graphs show the value of exported production and the value of catch for selected species.
About 750,000 tonnes of seafood is harvested annually from New Zealand’s fisheries. Seventy % of fish taken is from our deepwater and midwater fisheries, while 11% are pelagic, 10% are farmed species, and 9% are from our inshore fisheries.
The New Zealand seafood industry’s apparent export dependency declined in 2003 as export revenues were impacted by the strengthening New Zealand dollar. Our major export markets are Japan (16%), other Asian countries (27%), European Union (18%), United States (17%) and Australia (12%). For the first time in more than a decade export dependency slipped below 90%, although domestic sales are estimated to have remained static at less than $140 million annually for the last five years.
In the 1970s, open access to fisheries resources and emphasis on increasing commercial harvest led to over-fishing, which impacted on fishstocks and returns to fishers. The extension of New Zealand control over the EEZ, coupled with new technology, meant that our fishing industry could expand to fish new species and areas. The introduction of the QMS in 1986 was partly aimed at addressing overfishing.
As a result of the fisheries settlement Māori now own around 40% of quota and have additional involvement in another 20% of quota. The commercial assets are currently held and managed by the Commission, which has developed an allocation model for distribution of the assets to iwi.
Implementation of the model is reliant on passage of the Māori Fisheries Bill. Subsequently many iwi will have the opportunity to become directly involved in the commercial fishing industry.
Aquaculture is an important activity in terms of the contribution it makes to the economy.
Aquaculture exports grew from $68 million in 1991 to peak at $241 million in 2002. They declined by 23% to $186 million in 2003. The largest contributor is Greenshell mussels, which is now the second largest seafood export by species and value. Other important species are quinnat (king) salmon ($39 million) and Pacific oyster ($13.2 million). While techniques are being developed to farm a growing variety of other species, such as seaweed, paddle crabs, rock lobster, koura, seahorses, kingfish, snapper, flatfish and sponges, commercial investment in taking those techniques to market has markedly reduced in the last two years.
Recreational fishing, both marine and fresh water, is a popular activity. Surveys indicate that up to 20% of the population engage in marine recreational fishing annually, gaining a variety of benefits, ranging from enjoyment and relaxation to sustenance for their families. Recreational fishing also contributes to the economy, through business for equipment suppliers, charter boat operators and tourist facilities. Research into the value of recreational fishing estimates the expenditure made by recreational fishers to catch five key recreational species to be nearly $1 billion per annum. As the population concentration grows in areas such as Auckland there is increased pressure on the regional recreational resources.
While marine recreational fishers may catch at least 40 species, the main species are snapper, blue cod, kahawai, rock lobster, paua and scallops. Many of the species taken by recreational fishers are fished in competition with the commercial fishing sector. In a relatively small number of fisheries, such as the snapper fishery off the north-east coast of the North Island, and the blue cod fishery at the top of the South Island, recreational catch makes up a large proportion of the total catch.