Species Focus - Tarakihi (Nemadactylus macropterus)
Tarakihi is highly valued by both the commercial and non-commercial fishers and
is caught in coastal waters to depths of around 250 metres.
Trawling is the main commercial method used to catch this
species. Recreational fishers tend to favour rod-and-line or set
nets. Tarakihi is also caught as a bycatch in other fisheries.
Tarakihi can live for more than 40 years and are relatively slow
growing. Sexual maturity is reached at 4-6 years (25-35 cm from
the nose to the fork of the tail) after which their growth rate slows.
They spawn in summer and autumn and the three main spawning
grounds are: Cape Runaway to East Cape, Kaikoura to Pegasus Bay
and near Jackson Bay on the west coast of the South Island.
Tarakihi remain in a larval form for between 7-12 months and it’s
likely that ocean currents disperse larvae around New Zealand.
Tagging surveys indicate that tarakihi
can be highly mobile, travelling long
distances. These factors suggest
that tarakihi form a single
New Zealand stock.
Status of the fish stocks
Overall, landings (the annual amount of fish and fish products,
such as fillets brought to port) have remained relatively stable
since at least the late 1960s, despite changes in effort and
methods of fishing. Current catch limits appear to be sustainable.
Current management issues
Tarakihi distribution and management areas.
Tarakihi is an important shared fishery. There are opposing views
as to how fish stocks should be managed. Commercial fishers,
in general, want to catch the maximum amount of fish year after
year. Non commercial fishers on the other hand value size and
availability of species such as tarakihi.
The government is currently developing a Shared Fishery policy
and how it applies to the tarakihi fishery will be an important
issue for the future.
Recreational fishing data was collected for much of the 2004/05
fishing year and an estimate of the recreational catch is expected
to be available late 2008.
Current research in the north of the North Island includes
estimating trends in catch per unit effort over time, and estimating
the size/age class distribution of commercial catches. On the
South Island’s west coast a stock assessment will estimate current
biomass levels and sustainable yields.
Environmental impacts and bycatch of endangered or protected
species are both issues associated with trawl fisheries. There
is ongoing work being done by the government and industry to
identify, quantify, and mitigate these effects.
Tarakihi catch limits and allowances
The total allowable catches for tarakihi have been set at a
combined level of 7,406 tonnes for the 2007/08 fishing year.
The total commercial tarakihi catch for the country was 5,729
tonnes in 2006/07. There are recreational and non-commercial
customary allowances in three QMAs only. These allowances
total 652 tonnes for recreational fishing, and 188 tonnes for noncommercial
customary fishing. A further 128 tonnes has been
allocated to other sources of mortality which covers issues such
as theft (poaching and illegal sales), illegal fishing (mis-reporting),
and wastage or injured fish that are unlikely to survive.
The total allowable catch for the north of the North Island was
increased by 70 tonnes in 2007. This increase was allocated
proportionally between the commercial and non-commercial
The minimum recreational size limits for tarakihi is 25 cm. In the
Fiordland fisheries management area there is a bag limit of 15
tarakihi per person per day. In the rest of the country tarakihi is
contained within the combined species bag limit of 20.
The commercial tarakihi fishery is managed using a range of
restrictions. Management measures include restrictions on large
vessels fishing close to shore, and trawling and set net bans.