Observing the catch
For more than 20 years MFish observers have taken to the seas on board commercial fishing vessels.
A male colossal squid caught in Antarctic waters in 2007.
A group of around 55 people spend days
or weeks at sea, collecting data on fishing
activities and the catch. They collect
biological samples and other information
that will help with research, fisheries
management, setting sustainable catch
levels and monitoring the environmental
impact of fishing activities. This work
is set by the Ministry of Fisheries and
the Department of Conservation’s
management and research programmes.
Observers climb aboard vessels in
deepwater, middle-depth and pelagic
fisheries, as well as smaller fishing
vessels operating in the surface and
bottom long-line, purse seine, set net
and inshore trawl fisheries.
In 2006/07 there was a total of 5,969
days when observers were at sea, an
increase of 11 percent on the previous
year. This year, 2007/08, we are up 13
percent (or 785 days) on last year’s result.
One highlight of 2007 was the collection
of a particularly large biological sample.
A male colossal squid caught by a New
Zealand fishing vessel in Antarctic waters
while longlining for a toothfish and was
brought back for scientific study.
Thanks to the combined efforts of the
San Aspiring’s crew and the Ministry of
Fisheries observer this is the first intact
specimen of a colossal squid ever to be