Species Focus - Blue Cod (Parapercis colias)
Blue cod are found only in New Zealand and are an inshore domestic fishery.
The major blue cod commercial fisheries in New Zealandare off Southland and the Chatham Islands, with smaller butregionally significant fisheries off Otago, Canterbury, the enclosedMarlborough Sounds and Wanganui. Blue cod tend to be moreabundant and larger in size south of Cook Strait.
This species is highly valued by all sectors and is the mostpopular finfish species for many areas of the South Island.The non-commercial catch of blue cod is taken almost exclusivelyby line fishing. Commercially, most blue cod are caught usingcod pots, although there is also a small amount of bycatch frominshore trawling.
Tagging surveys indicate that blue cod tend to be resident toa home area and are therefore susceptible to local depletion.This is apparent within the Fiordland and Marlborough Soundsand Paterson Inlet (Stewart Island).
Status of the stocks
For all blue cod QMAs, recent commercial catch levels and currentTACCs are considered sustainable.
Surveys using pots and handlines are completed annually tomonitor the relative abundance of populations in selected areasbetween the Marlborough Sounds and Fiordland.
Current management issues
The drop in the number of blue cod in the Marlborough Sounds,caused by recreational fishing, is the most pressing management issue. There are some signs that such local depletion couldbecome an issue at Kaikoura, Motunau and parts of Foveaux Strait.Given the ease of access and increasing retail value of blue cod,poaching may also become a management issue within the fishery.
Recreational fishers often catch undersize cod. Any time a fishis caught on a hook there is a risk that the fish will die, even ifreturned to the sea. If fishers use larger, circle hooks (6/0 or larger),or barbless hooks, the number of smaller blue cod that will die willbe reduced, simply because they can’t swallow that size hook.
This year MFish consulted with the community over how to deal with this issue.