Fish stock status
We regularly assesses New Zealand fish stocks and compares them against 4 performance measures. Get the latest results on the status of our fish stocks.
Current stock status
Our December 2017 stock status table shows the status of 388 of New Zealand's main fish stocks (or sub-stocks).
Stock status table for fish stocks [PDF, 505 KB]
Which stocks are included
Of the 388 fish stocks or sub-stocks included:
- 46 were assessed in 2017
- 342 were assessed in previous years
- 383 are Quota Management System (QMS) stocks or sub-stocks
- 5 are non-QMS species that are Antarctic or highly migratory species.
Nominal stocks not included
We haven't included 297 QMS fish stocks that:
- are in areas outside the main range of a species – set up for administrative purposes only
- have insignificant catch or catch allowance (generally close to zero tonnes)
- have little to no potential to develop as either recreational or commercial fisheries.
Download a list of nominal fish stocks [PDF, 32 KB]
Management by stock levels
Fisheries New Zealand assesses and manages fish stocks using 4 performance measures:
- A soft limit – below this level, a fish stock is considered to be overfished or depleted and needs to be actively rebuilt, for example by reducing the total allowable catch.
- A hard limit – below this level, a fish stock is considered to have collapsed and fisheries may need to be closed to rebuild at the fastest possible rate.
- Overfishing threshold – a rate of stock removal that shouldn't be exceeded as it will lead to stocks falling below other performance measures.
- A target level – the level we want a fish stock to fluctuate around for the best balance between use and sustainability, while allowing for environmental variation.
How sustainable are our fish stocks?
The soft limit is an important performance measure as it can show potential sustainability issues.
We know the status of 165 stocks against the soft limit. Most of our fish stocks are in good shape (above the soft limit):
- 84% or 138 stocks and sub-stocks
- 97% of catch by weight.
- Download a quick overview of 2017 fish stock status [PDF, 1.3 MB]
- View a presentation on the state of our fisheries [PDF, 2.2 MB]
27 stocks or sub-stocks are below the soft limit:
- southern bluefin tuna and Pacific bluefin tuna (highly migratory species that aren't always in our waters)
- 3 stocks of black cardinalfish
- 5 stocks of bluenose
- 3 stocks or sub-stocks of orange roughy
- 3 stocks or sub-stocks of snapper
- 2 stocks or sub-stocks of John Dory
- 2 stocks or sub-stocks of scallops
- 2 stocks or sub-stocks of oysters
- 1 stock or sub-stock each of flatfish, rock lobster, pāua, pipi and freshwater eels.
Rebuilding for sustainable stocks
We're managing these fisheries to rebuild them towards target levels, for example by:
- reducing total allowable commercial catches of QMS stocks
- supporting management of highly migratory species under international arrangements.
Find out more
How we assess fish stocks
Fisheries New Zealand's Harvest Strategy Standard (HSS) guides the way we assess and manage fish stocks under the Quota Management System (QMS).
Download the Harvest Strategy Standard [PDF, 237 KB]
Reports for individual species
Each year, we convene a large number of Fisheries Assessment Working Group meetings to assess the status of fish stocks using:
- scientific research (from contracted research providers)
- validated catch and fishing effort reports from commercial fisheries
- data from our on-board observer programme
- other relevant information.
This information is summarised in 2 annual fisheries assessment plenary reports – the main one in May (3 volumes) and one for rock lobsters and highly migratory species (1 volume) in November. The plenary reports provide information on our fisheries and the status of each fish stock.
- Fisheries assessment plenary May 2017 - Volume 1: Introductory section to groper [PDF, 26 MB]
- Fisheries assessment plenary May 2017 - Volume 2: Hake to pilchard [PDF, 25 MB]
- Fisheries assessment plenary May 2017 - Volume 3: Pipi to yellow-eyed mullet [PDF, 29 MB]
- Fisheries assessment plenary November 2017 - Stock Assessments and Stock Status [PDF, 7.6 MB]
Who to contact
If you have questions about fish stock status, email firstname.lastname@example.org
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