Fishing for squid
FCVs are used commonly when fishing for squid, a catch
that varies in value depending on what’s happening in the
Although squid is traditionally a low value product, New Zealand’s
squid fishery is one of our most economically important industries.
It is frequently one of our top seafood export earners, with most of
our product exported to Asia and Spain.
The value of our squid fishery is heavily influenced by how much
squid is caught in other parts of the world, particularly in the South
Atlantic. The size and quality of the available squid also plays a
part in how much the market will pay. This, along with fluctuations
in exchange rates, explains why export earnings can vary from
year to year.
The main squid fishing season occurs during the summer
months. There are two trawl fishing areas – a small area
around the Auckland and Campbell Islands known as
SQU6T and an area covering the rest of the EEZ called
The SQU1T fishery is primarily a trawl fishery
and normally begins in December.
The SQU6T fishery starts on 1 February
and normally continues until the
end of April. There is also a
smaller squid jig fishery, covering
the same area as SQU1T. Jig fishing
uses a different fishing method than trawl
vessels – but few boats are involved in this fishery at present.
Both of New Zealand’s squid fisheries are fished mainly by Korean
and Ukrainian vessels that have been chartered by New Zealand
companies. This is because it costs less to charter a vessel than
it does to buy a new one.
The squid fishery is unusual because squid are believed to spawn
(releasing and fertilizing eggs) and die in the same year, so with
each new fishing year there is essentially a fresh quantity of
squid to harvest. This means that the effect of fishing on the
squid species may be relatively small, as long as sufficient
spawning takes place. There are environmental issues in both
the SQU1T and SQU6T fishery. Sea lions are at risk in the SQU6T
fishery. Like other fisheries, seabirds are also at risk of being
caught and killed.
In the past the SQU1T fishery has had the highest number of
seabird captures across all New Zealand’s fisheries. In recent
years both regulations and voluntary measures, brought in by
the industry, have been introduced to reduce the high number of
seabird captures. Regulatory measures include that all vessels
must use a bird scaring device.
Current voluntary measures require fishers to limit the amount
of offal that is discharged from their vessel. Offal is waste from
onboard fish processing, such as gutting and filleting. Seabirds
are attracted to it because it is a good food source for them.
The SQU6T fishery around the Auckland and Campbell Islands
overlaps the habitat of the New Zealand sea lion. Sea lions
sometimes get caught in squid fishing gear and drown.
To address this the Minister sets a sea lion mortality limit which
specifies the maximum number of sea lions that can be captured
in the SQU6T fishery. When this limit is reached the fishery is
closed. For the 2007/08 season the limit was 81 sea lions.
There were 46 assumed sea lion deaths during this period,
10 fewer than the previous year. In recent years fishing gear has
been developed that allows sea lions to escape from fishing nets.
All vessels fishing in SQU6T use this gear and MFish believes the
number of sea lion captures has fallen as a result.
To understand how sea lions interact with fishing gear, some
fishing boats had cameras attached to their nets during the 2008
season. This footage will be used to ensure that government
and the fishing industry are doing everything possible to limit the
impacts on sea lions, while still permitting fishers access to this