What Is a Fishery?
The word “fishery” is used to describe everything to do with fishing for a particular type of fish.
For example, the hoki fishery involves:
• the hoki fish, including how many of them there are (their abundance)
• the area where hoki are commonly found
• the people who try to catch hoki (fishers)
• the boats and fishing gear that fishers use to catch hoki
• other types of fish that feed on or with hoki and that fishers might catch while they’re fishing for hoki (this is called by-catch)
• birds and marine mammals (like dolphins or sea lions) that also feed on or live near hoki and that could be accidentally caught or hurt by the hoki fishing activity.
Fisheries in New Zealand
In New Zealand, we have different types of fisheries. We have:
- inshore fisheries
- deep-water and middle-depths fisheries
- fisheries for highly migratory species
- freshwater fisheries.
Inshore fisheries are found on our continental shelf – up to depths of 200 metres. These fisheries include paua, rock lobster, snapper, tarakihi, kahawai, and even some types of seaweed.
Deep-water and middle-depths fisheries are generally found in deeper waters – but still within our Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). An EEZ is an area of sea that one country has the special right to explore and take marine resources from. Our EEZ extends 200 nautical miles, (which is 370 kilometres) out to sea from the coastline of New Zealand. The deep-water fisheries in our EEZ include six of our 10 most important commercial species of fish – squid, hoki, orange roughy, ling, hake, and jack mackerel.
Highly migratory species are the types of fish that travel great distances – through the EEZs of different countries and into the seas that don’t belong to anyone – the high seas. These fisheries include different kinds of tuna, marlin, swordfish, and some types of shark, including the blue shark and the mako shark.
Freshwater fisheries are found in rivers and lakes. The freshwater fisheries currently managed by the Ministry of Fisheries (MFish) include eel, catfish, different kinds of carp, freshwater shrimp, and even goldfish!
Sharing our fisheries
All the fisheries in New Zealand are important to different types of fishers, including commercial fishers, Māori customary fishers, and recreational fishers.
When a fishery is important to more than one type of fisher, we call it a shared fishery. Most shared fisheries are found inshore. They are fisheries like snapper, blue cod, kahawai, rock lobster, and paua. But some offshore fisheries, such as swordfish, and freshwater fisheries, such as the eel fishery, are also shared fisheries.
MFish works with all those groups of fishers who are involved in a shared fishery. The goal is to try to make sure that everyone can catch enough fish for their needs while still leaving fish for the future. This can be a difficult task, as each group has different but equally important needs.
Fisheries for the future
There are many different problems facing our fisheries, and fisheries around the world.
Some of the problems include:
- environmental changes
- increasing demands for fish and other fish products.
Fish move around, sometimes over huge distances and into very deep water, and it can be hard to keep track of how many fish are actually left in a fishery.
The problems listed above must be managed carefully, and everyone who uses our fisheries will need to help to keep those fisheries healthy in the future.