Deepwater fisheries

We manage New Zealand's deepwater and middle-depth fisheries under the National deepwater fisheries plan. Find out about it, plans for specific fisheries, deepwater fish stocks, and how we manage the effects of deepwater fishing on the environment.

About deepwater fisheries

Deepwater and middle-depth fisheries are between 12 and 200 nautical miles offshore. This reaches the limit of New Zealand's exclusive economic zone (EEZ). Almost all fishing in New Zealand's deepwater fisheries is commercial. This is because of:

  • how far they are from the shore
  • how deep the fishing is.

Over 200,000 tonnes of fish are caught from deepwater fisheries each year. This was worth an estimated $870 million in export earnings in 2019.

Deepwater fish stocks

Deepwater stocks
Tier 1

Hake: all

Hoki: all

Jack mackerel: JMA 3, JMA 7

Ling: LIN 3 - LIN 7

Orange roughy: all

Oreos: all

Scampi: all

Southern blue whiting: all

Squid: all

Tier 2

Alfonsino: all

Barracouta: BAR 4, BAR 5, BAR 7

Black cardinal fish: all

Deepwater crabs (CHC/GSC/KIC): all

English mackerel: EMA 3, EMA 7

Frostfish: FRO 3 - FRO 9

Gemfish: SKI 3, SKI 9

Ghost shark, dark: GSH 4 - GSH 6

Ghost shark, pale: all

Lookdown dory: all

Patagoian toothfish: all

Prawn killer: all

Redbait: all

Ribaldo: RIB 3 - RIB 8

Rubyfish: all

Sea perch: SPE 3 - SPE 7

Silver warehou: all

Spiny dogfish: SPD 4, SPD 5

White warehou: all

Tier 3 Non-QMS species  

Quota Management System (QMS) and deepwater fisheries

We use the QMS to sustainably manage New Zealand's deepwater fishing. All fish managed under the QMS have catch limits. The limits are based on research we do to work out how much fish can be caught to keep numbers healthy.

Deepwater fishery programmes

Ensuring that fishing activity in New Zealand is sustainable is a focus of all our plans and research. We prepare new plans as needed to:

  • ensure sustainability
  • reduce the impact of fishing on the sea.

We manage New Zealand's deepwater and middle-depth fisheries under the national deepwater fisheries plan.

National deepwater fisheries plan

We manage deepwater fishing using the National fisheries plan for deepwater and middle-depth fisheries. This is also called the National deepwater plan. We created the plan with input from:

  • the fishing industry
  • environmental non-government organisations (NGOs).

The plan has 3 parts:

  • Part 1: Strategic direction for deepwater fisheries management
  • Part 2: Annual operational plan
  • Part 3: Annual review report
Expand All
Part 1: Strategic direction
Part 2: Annual operational plan
Part 3: Annual review report

Fact sheets on deepwater fishery species and activity

New Zealand's sustainable fisheries [PDF, 457 KB]

New Zealand hoki [PDF, 743 KB]

New Zealand orange roughy [PDF, 537 KB]

Protecting New Zealand's seabed from the impacts of bottom trawling [PDF, 375 KB]

Certified sustainable deepwater fisheries in New Zealand

Important New Zealand deepwater fisheries have been certified by the Marine Stewardship Council. This certifies them as meeting high sustainability and environmental standards. The Marine Stewardship Council is internationally recognised.

The MSC Standards – Marine Stewardship Council

These New Zealand deepwater fisheries are certified as sustainable:

  • hoki
  • hake
  • ling
  • southern blue whiting
  • orange roughy.

This certification means that New Zealanders:

  • can be confident that these fish are being caught sustainably
  • export these fish more easily to important markets (because others can trust that our fishing is sustainable).

Find out more

Deepwater fisheries management – Independent quality assurance review report [PDF, 7 MB]

Understanding the economics of squid jigging in New Zealand waters [PDF, 2 MB]

National plan of action for the conservation and management of sharks [PDF, 709 KB]

Last reviewed: