Characteristics of the fishing sectors
Fishing industry and aquaculture
About 130 species are fished commercially within New Zealand waters. Catch is dominated by deepwater species (including hoki, ling, orange roughy, oreo dories, squid and silver warehou) as well as spiny rock lobster, paua, green-lipped mussels and snapper. Approximately 750,000 tonnes greenweight of seafood is harvested annually. Seventy percent of this is taken from deepwater and midwater stocks, 11% from pelagic stocks (such as mackerel and tuna), and 10% from farmed species. The inshore fisheries provide a base for the majority of owner-operated fishing businesses.
Aquaculture is an important and fast growing portion of the New Zealand seafood industry. There are currently around 1,000 marine farms covering approximately 9,000 hectares of coastal water space. Aquaculture contributes approximately 15% of the seafood sector's total value. The largest contributor is green-shell mussels. Other important species are king (quinnat) salmon and Pacific oyster. Techniques are being developed to farm a variety of other species, such as paua, seaweed, paddle crabs, rock lobster, koura, seahorses, kingfish, snapper, eels, flatfish and sponges.
In 2004 the seafood sector was New Zealand's fifth largest export earner. Exports comprise approximately 88% of the seafood sector's value. The seafood industry creates $1.2 billion in exports and $150 million in domestic sales annually, contributing $1.7 billion to the Gross Domestic Product and $4.5 billion to total output. There are a total of 2,500 seafood entities, providing direct employment for 10,500 full-time equivalent people.
New Zealand's major export markets are the European Union (18%), the United States (17%), Japan (16%) and Australia (12%). Other Asian countries (excluding Japan) collectively account for 27% of New Zealand's exported seafood product. In 2003, for the first time in more than a decade, export dependency slipped below 90% by value of total production. In the short term, export earnings are expected to fall as the New Zealand dollar strengthens against the US dollar, and reductions in TAC for commercially dominant species take effect.
The New Zealand Seafood Industry Council (SeaFIC) provides overarching representation of the New Zealand fishing industry. SeaFIC promotes the interests of all sectors of the fishing industry by providing economic information and advice, co-ordination of industry resources, and enhancement of the industry's profile in the community.
A key player in the commercial sector is Aotearoa Fisheries Limited. The company – which was established under the Maori Fisheries Act 2004 – holds around half of the total value of the Maori fisheries assets and is estimated to be worth at least $350 million. Maori interests now control over 33% of the industry through commercial rights.
A characteristic of industry change over the past few years has been the continued emergence of Commercial Stakeholder Organisations (CSOs). CSOs are companies set up to manage matters of relevance to rights owners in particular fisheries. Currently, most commercial fisheries in New Zealand are represented by a CSO. Improved engagement of CSOs has allowed for greater integration of stakeholder views in the management of New Zealand's fisheries resource.
The New Zealand fisheries sector has been under economic pressure in recent times due to a strengthening New Zealand dollar against the US dollar. This economic pressure has led the industry to adapt and evolve its operations to maximise economic return. Industry developments in support of maximising economic return have included:
- strengthening relationships with overseas markets
- globalisation of New Zealand's fishing investments
- development of cooperative relationships with fishing industries in other countries
- use of foreign charter vessels to harvest fisheries resources domestically
- increased use of opportunities to fish on the high seas
- research and development into means of adding value to processed products.
Marine recreational fishing is a popular activity. Surveys indicate that up to 20% of the population engage in marine recreational fishing annually. 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.
The main recreational 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.
A large number of charter fishing vessels operate in areas such as Hauraki Gulf and Marlborough Sounds. These are included in the recreational fishing category because they do not sell their fish, but rather provide transportation services.
Customary fishing is exercised by tangata whenua (and others authorised by tangata whenua) for customary food gathering purposes. Customary fishing must be authorised and the take cannot be sold. The main species harvested for customary fishing are oysters, paua, mussels, rock lobster, and kina, as well as finfish such as eels, blue cod and snapper. In recent years, there have only been sufficient numbers of toheroa to sustain the customary harvest.