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Part I Overview and main indicators

  1. Country brief
  2. General geographic and economic indicators
  3. FAO Fisheries statistics

Part II Narrative (2014)

  1. Production sector
    • Marine sub-sector
    • Inland sub-sector
    • Aquaculture sub-sector
    • Recreational sub-sector
  2. Post-harvest sector
    • Fish utilization
    • Fish markets
  3. Socio-economic contribution of the fishery sector
    • Trade
    • Food security
    • Employment
    • Rural development
  4. Trends, issues and development
    • Constraints and opportunities
    • Government and non-government sector policies and development strategies
    • Research, education and training
      • Research
      • Education and training
    • Foreign aid
  5. Institutional framework
  6. Legal framework
  7. References

Additional information

  1. FAO Thematic data bases
  2. Publications
  3. Meetings & News archive

Part I Overview and main indicators

Part I of the Fishery and Aquaculture Country Profile is compiled using the most up-to-date information available from the FAO Country briefs and Statistics programmes at the time of publication. The Country Brief and the FAO Fisheries Statistics provided in Part I may, however, have been prepared at different times, which would explain any inconsistencies.

Country briefPrepared: 2014

New Zealand has a coastline of 15 100 km, and the world’s fourth largest Exclusive Economic Zone of 1.3 million km2. Over 16 000 marine species have been identified in New Zealand waters, of which 130 species are commercially fished. The total seafood export value in 2012 was USD 1.2 billion, while imports were worth USD 148.6 million. Estimated per capita consumption amounted to 26 kg in 2010.

Marine capture fisheries and aquaculture produced 440 700 t and 100 200 t in 2012 respectively. Inland fisheries production was negligible. Aquaculture is based primarily on the farming of Green shell mussels (86 percent) and Chinook salmon (12 percent). The other top commercial species in terms of value of exports included marine demersal fish (led by Hoki and Orange Roughy), lobsters and squids. The number of fishing vessels declined substantially from over 2 000 in 2002 to 1 396 in 2012. The majority was multipurpose vessels but trawlers represented about half of vessels and 93 percent were less than 24 m in length. In 2012, 2 150 people were employed in the primary fisheries sector (about 700 in aquaculture) and another 5 540 were employed in processing.

In 2008 and 2010 two separate international reports (Alder and Pauly, 2008 and Holland, 2010) assessed New Zealand fisheries as world leaders in their management of marine resources. The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) which was formed by amalgamation of several other Ministries in 2012, has as its stated objective “Sustainable fisheries in a healthy aquatic ecosystem” and its policy is based on an ecosystem-based management approach. This, in conjunction with the strategy of managing fisheries to maximize economic returns is implemented by limiting catches to specific levels using a Quota Management System (QMS), a form of rights-based management using individual transferable quotas (ITQs). Currently, the New Zealand Government is looking at how to expand its rights-based approach to fisheries governance into the realm of integrated coastal management and it is developing an across-agency integrated Oceans Policy. Additionally, under a cost recovery policy the fishing industry pays for fisheries management costs, including operational, research and enforcement costs. Most allocated quota under the QMS also includes an allocation, on a species and stock level, for recreational and Maori traditional/customary use.

The long-term goal for fisheries in New Zealand is anchored on the twin pillars of economic benefits and environmental sustainability and is enshrined in the Government’s Fisheries 2030 strategy. The long-term goal of that strategy is “New Zealanders maximizing benefits from the use of fisheries within environmental limits.”

The New Zealand aquaculture industry aims to be a NZD 1 billion per year industry by 2025. In recent years the aquaculture contribution to seafood exports has been slowly increasing. The Ministry for Primary Industries has the responsibility for developing and implementing the 2011 Aquaculture Strategy and Action Plan for both marine and land-based aquaculture for a wide range of species, including finfish. The strategy builds on the overall Fisheries 2030 strategy.

As a supporter of the various FAO Fisheries International Plans of Action (IPOAs), in 2004 New Zealand finalized its National Plan of Action (NPOA) to Reduce the Incidental Catch of Seabirds in Longline Fisheries and its National Plan of Action to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unregulated and Unreported Fishing (NPOA-IUU) and in 2013 adopted its National Plan of Action for the Conservation and Management of Sharks (NPOA-Sharks). The important New Zealand Hoki fishery, as well as a number of smaller fisheries, has been certified under the Marine Stewardship Council’s Environmental Eco-label for sustainable fishing.
General geographic and economic indicatorsNew Zealand lies in the south western corner of the Pacific Ocean and consists of two main Islands (the North Island and the South Island) in addition to a number of smaller outlying islands. Its economy is robust and is export-orientated with agricultural commodities accounting for around half of all goods exports - New Zealand is also one of the top five dairy exporters in the world.New Zealand’s agricultural and fisheries sector are highly efficient and there is also a sizable manufacturing and service sectors and growing high-tech capabilities. The country has a low-inflation environment, with monetary policy managed by an independent Reserve Bank charged with maintaining price stability. GDP growth in the period 2012-16 is estimated to be in the range of 2-3%.

Table 1 - New Zealand - General Geographic and Economic Data

Area: 270 534 Km2
Water area: 4.4 million Km2 (EEZ & Territorial Sea)
Shelf area: 1.7 million Km2 (agreed 2010)
Length of continental coastline: 15 134 Km(1)
Population (July 2014): 4 545 500
GDP at purchaser's value: USD 175 605 million (2012)
GDP per head: USD 38 637 (2012)
Agricultural GDP: USD 15 290 million (2010)
Fisheries GDP: USD 2 502 million (2010)
*Values converted by FAO as per UN currency exchange rate
**Per capita values calculated by FAO and converted as per UN currency exchange rate
(1)CIA World Factbook: Coastlines

Key statistics

Country area267 710km2FAOSTAT. Official data, 2013
Land area263 310km2FAOSTAT. Official data, 2013
Inland water area4 400km2Computed. Calculated, 2013
Population - Est. & Proj.4.781millionsFAOSTAT. Official data, 2019
Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) area4 098 264km2VLIZ

Source: FAO Country Profile

FAO Fisheries statisticsThe tables and graphs in this section are based on statistics prepared by the FAO Fishery Information, Data and Statistics Unit and disseminated in 2014.

Table 2 – New Zealand – Fisheries Data (year ending September 2012)

  1980 1990 2000 2010 2011 2012
PRODUCTION (thousand tonnes) 157.6 380.3 639.1 546.8 547.1 540.8
Inland 0.7 0.9 1.5 1.5 1.7 2.3
Marine 156.9 379.4 637.5 545.2 545.4 538.6
Aquaculture 3.2 28.6 85.6 110.6 117.3 100.2
Inland 0.0 0.2 0.5 0.6 0.7 1.2
Marine 3.2 28.4 85.2 110.0 116.6 99.0
Capture 154.3 351.7 553.4 436.2 429.8 440.7
Inland 0.7 0.7 1.1 0.9 1.0 1.1
Marine 153.7 351.0 552.4 435.3 428.8 439.6
TRADE (USD million)
Import 16.2 35.6 54.2 121.7 145.5 148.6
Export 158.0 438.8 665.7 1072.1 1207.5 1243.7
EMPLOYMENT (thousands) 9.5 4.7 2.5 2.1 2.5 2.1
Aquaculture 0.3 0.6 0.7 0.7 0.7
Capture 9.2 4.7 1.9 1.4 1.8 1.4
Inland 0.1 0.2 0.2 0.2
Marine 9.2 4.7 1.8 1.3 1.6 1.3
FLEET(thousands boats) ... ... 2.0 1.4 1.3 1.4
Fish food supply (thousand tonnes in live weight equivalent) 56.4 103 87.3 113.8
Per Capita Supply (kilograms) 17.9 30.4 22.6 26.0
Fish Proteins (grams per capita per day) 3.6 7.8 6.3 7.1
Fish/Animal Proteins (%) 5.4 11.7 12.7 10.2
Fish/Total Proteins (%) 3.6 7.7 7.1 6.4
Source: FAO Fishery and Aquaculture Statistics            
1) Excluding aquatic plants            
2) Due to rounding total may not sum up            

Figure 1 — New Zealand — Total fishery production
Figure 1 — New Zealand — Total fishery production

Figure 2 — New Zealand — Composition of marine capture production - 2012
Figure 2 — New Zealand — Composition of marine capture production - 2012

Figure 3 — New Zealand — Production of aquatic plants
Figure 3 — New Zealand — Production of aquatic plants

Figure 4 — New Zealand — Capture production
Figure 4 — New Zealand — Capture production

Figure 5 — New Zealand — Major species groups in capture production
Figure 5 — New Zealand — Major species groups in capture production

Figure 6 — New Zealand — Aquaculture production
Figure 6 — New Zealand — Aquaculture production

Figure 7 — New Zealand— Major species groups in aquaculture production
Figure 7 — New Zealand— Major species groups in aquaculture production

Figure 8 - New Zealand – Import and export value of fish and fishery products
Figure 8 - New Zealand – Import and export value of fish and fishery products

Figure 9 - New Zealand - Major species groups in import
Figure 9 - New Zealand - Major species groups in import

Figure 10 - New Zealand - Major species groups in export
Figure 10 - New Zealand - Major species groups in export

Figure 11 — New Zealand — Per capita supply of fish and fishery products –
Figure 11 — New Zealand — Per capita supply of fish and fishery products –

Figure 12 — New Zealand — Composition of total fish food supply – 2009
Figure 12 — New Zealand — Composition of total fish food supply – 2009

Updated 2014Part II Narrative

Part II of the Fishery and Aquaculture Country Profile provides supplementary information that is based on national and other sources and that is valid at the time of compilation (see update year above). References to these sources are provided as far as possible.

Production sectorNew Zealand has the fourth largest EEZ in the world, a variety of fish resources which are managed with an emphasis on long-term sustainability, and a small human population, the combination of which results in New Zealand being a major fish exporter which provides an important part of the country’s economy and economic growth. About ninety-five percent of New Zealand’s commercial catch and 75 percent of aquaculture production is exported, contributing some USD 1.2 billion to New Zealand’s economy annually.

The sector is dominated by inshore and offshore marine capture fisheries which represent about 80% of production with the remaining 20% coming from the aquaculture sector. The major inshore fisheries for rock lobster and paua (abalone) are single species fisheries whereas the inshore finfish fishery and the deepwater fisheries are multi-species in nature.

Figure 2 shows the annual production from both the capture fisheries and the aquaculture sector for the period 1980-2012. Production has increased in recent decades, albeit at a slower pace than previously, with aquaculture production contributing an increasing share of total fish production.

Rock lobster production, while small in volume, is the major export earner because of its high export price, contributing about USD 214 million to the economy in 2013 or 16.5% of the total value of fish exports.

The main aquaculture species are the green-lipped or Green shell mussels, Pacific oysters and salmon, although a number of other species are also farmed on land and at sea.

Except for a small commercial fishery for native eel species, inland freshwater fisheries are purely recreational supporting both local and tourist sport fishing in lakes and rivers. Freshwater species caught include eels, trout and salmon. Also, some freshwater species such as eels and koura (a native freshwater crayfish) are important to Maori for their spiritual and customary needs.

New Zealand is widely acknowledged for its successful management of commercial fisheries, with an emphasis on long-term sustainability of the resources. Most major fisheries are managed by output controls (quotas) with Maori ownership of quota being significant in some fisheries. For example, Aotearoa Fisheries Ltd, which was established in 2004 to further Maori fishing interests after the passing of the Maori Fisheries Act (2004), owns 50% of the shareholding of New Zealand’s largest deep-sea fishing company Sealord which has annual sales in excess of USD $600 million. In 2014, 100 of the 130 commercially fished species were under a quota management scheme with 638 individual stocks of those species being subject to quota management.Marine sub-sectorNew Zealand’s marine fisheries sector can be separated into commercial, customary (i.e. Maori indigenous) and recreational sectors with the commercial fishery comprising a number of components as follows:
  • Deepwater fisheries
  • Inshore finfish fisheries
  • Inshore shellfish fisheries
  • Pelagic fisheries
In 2012, there were a total of 1 396 commercial fishing vessels in New Zealand’s fisheries (total gross registered tonnage of 117 487) of which 26 were foreign chartered vessels2. A number of these vessels participate in multiple fisheries. There were also 1 540 quota holders for the various marine fisheries subject to the Quota Management System (QMS).

(2) New Zealand is phasing out the use of foreign charter vessels. In August 2014 the New Zealand Government passed a Bill requiring all foreign-owned vessels operating in New Zealand waters to carry the New Zealand flag from 1 May 2016 and to operate under full New Zealand legal jurisdiction.

Deepwater fisheries - Catch profile

This fishery is carried out within and outside New Zealand’s EEZ, particularly off the east coast and Chatham Islands and the Southern Ocean.

Total production from this sector in 2013 was 217 167 t, up from 195 401 t in 2011, with the main species being hoki, Macruronus novaezelandiae (61% of landings), oreo dory, Pseudocyttus maculatus (7%), ling, Genypterus blacodes (6%) and orange roughy, Hoplostethus atlanticus (7%). Landings by species for 2013 are shown in Table 3.

Table 3 - New Zealand - Landings (t) of deepwater fish species, 2013

 2013 (t)
Hake 5 611
Hoki 131 568
Ling 13 934
Orange Roughy 5 324
Oreo Dory 10 978
Scampi 696
Deepwater total217 167

Much of the catch is exported with the total export earnings of hoki, orange roughy, ling, southern blue whiting, hake, oreo dory and scampi being USD 253 million for the year ending Sept 2013. Australian markets accounted for 26.1% of hoki export earnings with China (23.7%), France (13.5%) and Germany (9.7%) being the other major markets. Exports earnings for orange roughy have decreased in recent years as a result of reductions in Total Allowable Commercial Catches (TACC) for several orange roughy stocks. However, increases in price (for example from USD 10.13/kg in 2010 to USD 13.58/kg in the year ending Sept 2013) have partly offset the reduction in volume but not sufficiently to maintain total export earnings.

Deepwater fisheries - Landing sites

The greatest level of commercial fishing and aquaculture activity (fishing, landings and processing) is concentrated in the Nelson/Marlborough region on the east coast of the South Island. This region represents around 39% of the regional contribution to the seafood industry. The Canterbury regional contribution is around 19% and is largely based on deepwater species (mainly hoki and squid).

Deepwater fisheries - Fishing practices/systems

Most of the deepwater fleet uses bottom and mid-water trawling as the most common commercial fishing method. It is particularly used for deepwater species like orange roughy, hoki, ling, hake and squid. Much of the deepwater fleet is owned and operated by one of the five major fishing companies in New Zealand which also include significant indigenous Maori interests.

Deepwater fisheries - Management applied to main fisheries

The management arrangements are highly participatory between Government and industry with industry representative bodies and the Ministry for Primary Industries working in partnership to formulate and administer fisheries governance.. Environmental organizations also have an important role to play in ensuring management of the fishery meets environmental expectations. However, the ultimate responsibility for management rests with the New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries. Since 1 July 2011 the management of the deepwater fisheries has been implemented through the National Fisheries Plan for Deepwater and Middle-depth Fisheries. The National Deepwater Plan was developed to align with the New Zealand long term strategy, Fisheries 2030, which was developed with input from tangata whenua (the Maori people as well as local Maori communities) and stakeholders to provide strategic direction for the New Zealand fisheries sector.

The National Deepwater Plan collectively consists of three parts:
  1. Five-year plan
  2. Annual Operational Plan
  3. Annual Review Report
All the deepwater fisheries are managed by output controls. Total Allowable Catches (TAC) are set and this is then allocated between any recreational and/or indigenous (Maori customary) use, an estimate of illegal catches and commercial operators. This process results in a defined Total Allowable Commercial Catch (TACC) for the commercial fleet with annual TACC being set for each species and major stock within a number of defined Management Areas.

While the major fisheries’ actual annual landings are close to the TACC for the species, other (generally minor) species may have landings that are below the TACC for various reasons. As a result, the actual commercial landings are inevitably less than the total TACC for all species. In 2011, for example, the TACC for all species (not only deepwater species) was 609 957 t but the actual landings from these quota managed fisheries were 418 306 t.As a result of the strict management regimes and profitability of the fisheries, quota entitlements accrue significant value, with the quota value in 2009 for hoki being USD 590 million. There are no direct subsidies paid to the deepwater fishery (or any other New Zealand fishery) to improve or maintain profitability.

The major hoki fishery was independently certified as sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council in 2001 and several others of New Zealand’s deepwater species have since been assessed by the MSC and certified sustainable. These include Southern blue whiting, Albacore tuna troll and the Ross Sea toothfish fisheries. Two further deepwater fisheries (ling and the hake trawl fishery) are currently undergoing MSC assessment.

Inshore commercial finfish fishery - Catch profile

This fishery is carried out in inshore waters throughout New Zealand but particularly in the Auckland and South Island east coast areas. Total production from the inshore finfish fisheries in 2013 was 46 823 t, down from 47 284 t in 2011. with the major species being snapper, Pagrus auratus (13%), terakihi, Nemadactylus macropterus (12%) and blue cod, Parapercis colias (5%). Table 4 provides landings (t) for 2010 and 2011 of the major species from the inshore finfish fishery.

Table 4 – New Zealand - Landings (t) of inshore fish species in 2013

Bluenose 1 139
Blue Cod 2 194
John Dory 631
Snapper 6 304
Tarakihi 5 549
Inshore Finfish total46 823

Of the 2013 production, approximately 37% of the catch was exported. Major species for export by value in this group include (in order of export value) snapper, small sharks, bluenose, flatfish, red cod, John Dory and grouper. Export earnings for the main inshore finfish species in the year ending Sept 2013 was USD 81.3 million with snapper being the most important export in this group in terms of earnings and volume with 3 719 t or 59% of the total production being exported. Snapper is largely exported as chilled gutted whole fish and Australia is the key market taking 69.3% of all snapper exports. Other important markets are the US (11.9%) and Italy (6.8%).

Other important export species were flatfish (which includes a number of species managed as a group under the Quota Management System) which comprises soles and flounder and school shark which was the most important shark species in terms of export value at USD 6.7 million in the year ending Sept 2013. Snapper and bluenose (Hyperoglyphe antarctica) are also popular in the domestic market, which takes about a third of the snapper catch. The tarakihi catch is almost the same volume as snapper but very little is exported – around 5%. This is a key inshore finfish in the local market.

Inshore commercial finfish fishery - Landing sites

The greatest level of commercial fishing related to inshore fishing is the Auckland region with about 10% of total fish landings and which is largely based on inshore fisheries such as snapper from Auckland and adjacent regions. Other important areas for this fishery are Tasman and Southland with all other areas below 5% of total landings.

Inshore commercial finfish fishery - Fishing practices/systems

The inshore finfish fleet, which consists of smaller vessels (< 20m LOA) and which uses a variety of fishing gear including handlines, nets, traps and bottom and mid-water trawl nets. Owner operators, rather than company-owned vessels comprise a greater proportion of the fleet than in the deepwater fishery.

Inshore commercial finfish fishery - Management applied to main fisheries

The inshore fisheries sector is of significant importance not only to commercial fishers but also to recreational and Maori fishers. The allocation of quota to these various users is managed, as in other New Zealand fisheries, by first determining a TAC for the species and stock in question and then, estimating the illegal catch and finally allocating the remaining TAC to commercial operators (as a TACC) and to other users within a number of defined Management Areas. Like the deepwater fishery, management arrangements are highly participatory between Government and industry although, again, the ultimate responsibility for management rests with the New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries.

Inshore commercial shellfish fisheries - Catch profile

This fishery is dominated by just two high-value species, the southern rock lobster (Jasus edwardsii) and the paua (or abalone, Haliotis iris) and is carried out mainly in inshore areas of the South Island. Total production from the inshore commercial shellfish fisheries in 2013 was 3 559 t of which 74% was rock lobster.

Despite its low volume, rock lobster is the largest fisheries export earner in New Zealand with exports in 2013 being USD 214 million, significantly more than the high-volume hoki fishery. Almost all of the rock lobster production is exported (2 683 t in 2013) with China being the largest market. The reason for the 2013 recorded exports being slightly higher than 2013 production is because of a carryover of a small but unknown quantity of lobsters that were captured in 2012 but not exported until 2013.

Table 5 provides landings (t) for 2013 of the two major species from the inshore shellfish fishery.

Table 5 - Landings (t) of inshore shellfish species, 2013

 2013 (t)
Paua 910
Rock Lobster 2 649
Dredge oystersNa
Inshore Shellfish totalEst. 4 609

Scallops are a minor part of the inshore shellfish fishery with export earnings of USD 0.4 million in 2013. Dredge oysters are mainly harvested from Foveaux Strait. Domestic demand for Foveaux Strait oysters exceeds supply, therefore none are exported. Domestic prices for Foveaux Strait oysters are driven by the high demand and the value of the catch is approximately NZD 12 million (USD 8.7 million) per annum.

Inshore commercial shellfish fisheries - Landing sites

Rock lobster catches are taken throughout the North and South Islands within 11 Quota Management Areas. However, the greatest level of commercial fishing for rock lobster and paua (fishing, landings and processing) is concentrated in the Nelson/Marlborough region on the east coast of the South Island. In total, this region represents around 39% of the regional contribution to the seafood industry. Other important areas for this fishery are Tasman and Southland with all other areas below 5% of total landings.

Inshore commercial shellfish fisheries - Fishing practices/systems

The inshore shellfish fleet uses a variety of fishing gear according to the species being targeted, with traps (or pots) being used for rock lobsters, diving for paua and dredges for oysters. Owner operators, rather than company-owned vessels again dominate this sector.

Inshore commercial shellfish fisheries - Management applied to main fisheries

Like most of New Zealand’s commercial fisheries, the important inshore shellfish fisheries are managed by output controls through a Quota Management System (QMS) where annual Total Allowable Catches (TACs) and Total Allowable Commercial Catches (TACC) are set to ensure sustainable exploitation. Some input controls such as minimum sizes etc are however retained. The fisheries are also managed in separate Quota Management Areas (QMA) with the rock lobster fishery having 10 such QMAs (designated CRA-1 to CRA-10) with TACCs being set for each QMA. By contrast, virtually all of the commercial catch of Paua comes from one management area in the Fiordland of the South Island. All inshore shellfish species are of significant importance not only to commercial fishers but also to recreational and Maori fishers and therefore quotas are allocated, as part of the QMS, to each of these sectors. Again, management arrangements are highly participatory between Government and industry with ultimate responsibility for management resting with the New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industry which administers the key legislative instruments of the Fisheries Act (1996), the Maori Fisheries Act (2004) and other legislation.

Commercial pelagic fisheries - Catch profile

This fishery is characterised by being highly variable from year to year, although the sector is dominated by jack mackerel landings which comprise about 30% of landings. The total export value for this group for the year ending Sept 2013 was USD 182 million while the volume of pelagic species exported was 103 542 t or 76% of the catch. Squid exports were the most valuable export, accounting for USD 75 million or 41% of the value of all pelagic species. The international market for pelagic species is much more diverse than for other fisheries sectors with exports going to over 100 countries with China, Spain, Japan and Australia being the largest markets.

Table 6 provides landings (t) for 2013 of the major species from the pelagic fishery.

Table 6 - Landings (t) of pelagic fish species, 2013

 2013 (t)
Barracouta (Thyrsites atun)24 972
Blue Mackerel (Scomber australasicus)9 716
Jack Mackerel (Trachurus novaezelandiae)43 659
Squid 24 636
Tunas (Southern Blue Fin, Big Eye, Yellow Fin, Pacific Blue Fin & Albacore)900
Pelagic species, total132 530

Commercial pelagic fisheries - Landing sites

Like other fisheries, the greatest level of commercial marine fishing and aquaculture activity (fishing, landings and processing) is concentrated in the Nelson/Marlborough region on the east coast of the South Island. This region represents around 39% of the regional contribution to the seafood industry. Other important areas for this fishery are Tasman and Southland with all other areas below 5% of total landings. Landing sites in major cities such as Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch provide fish from the inshore fisheries for local consumption although each of these landing sites are small and only cater for those vessels supplying the local market.

Commercial pelagic fisheries - Fishing practices/systems

The pelagic fishery is undertaken in both the EEZ of New Zealand and in international waters, particularly in the Pacific Ocean. The fishery uses a variety of fishing gear with purse seines and mid-water trawls being the most common and other gear, such as jigs, long-lines and trolling being used for specific species.

Commercial pelagic fisheries - Management applied to main fisheries

Like other fisheries (see above for details), management arrangements for the pelagic fisheries sector is based on a Quota Management System (QMS) that allocates commercial catch quota (as a TACC) by species and by Quota Management Area (QMA). In 2013, as in previous years, the TACC was not fully taken with, for example, 21% of Pacific Blue Fin tuna TACC being taken, 0.2% of Yellow Fin tuna TACC and 76% of barracouta TACC. Management is highly participatory between Government and industry with ultimate responsibility for management resting with the New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI). There is also a significant recreational fishery for some of the larger pelagic species such as Pacific Blue Fin tuna, marlin and some shark species. The main recreational gamefish season, which is centred around the Bay of Islands area, runs from late December to April and focuses, in the North Island, on striped marlin and yellow fin tuna. Fishing for broadbill swordfish can extend the gamefish season. In southern waters pelagic sharks are commonly targeted.

The southern blue whiting fishery and the albacore tuna troll fishery has recently been assessed and certified by the Marine Stewardship Council for sustainability of the resource under current management arrangements.

Indigenous fisheries sub-sector

In addition to significant Maori involvement in commercial fishing (see above), customary fishing rights are provided for Maori to recognize local Maori harvesting needs (Iwi needs). These arrangements are formalized as part of the Maori Fisheries Act (2004). The local people develop management plans that guide their harvesting decisions to ensure sustainable stocks and culturally acceptable harvesting practices while providing for adequate kaimoana (seafood) for their needs. Customary take under these arrangements is defined as a specific allocation under the quota management system for those species that are managed by a QMS. There is also a specific “permitting” process for customary take that is managed by local Iwi.
Inland sub-sectorInland fisheries are insignificant in New Zealand although there is a small commercial fishery in both the North Island and South Island for two species of freshwater eels. The fishery also has a significant allocation for recreational fishing and for Maori customary use and in total about 1 100 t of eels are taken annually. Fishing occurs throughout the country although it is prohibited in National Parks and some reserves. Eels are managed within the Quota Management System supported by input controls which include closed areas to protect areas of importance to Maori for spiritual and customary take, size limits and escapement tubes in fyke nets to protect non-migratory eel populations.Aquaculture sub-sectorThe New Zealand aquaculture industry has grown steadily over the past two decades with current production around 100 000 t, 99% of which is marine aquaculture. The three main species cultivated are the native green mussels (Perna canaliculus), king salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha), and Pacific oysters (Crassostrea gigas). These species comprise some 85% of aquaculture production with other species such as native yellowtail kingfish, abalone, scallops, grouper and shrimp being of lesser importance and in some cases at an early stage of development.

Much of the production is exported although currently aquaculture export species are limited to the major species of green lipped mussels, salmon and oysters. The volume of aquaculture species exported during the year ending September 2013 was 44 922 t or about 44% of production.

Green lipped mussels accounted for 83.4% of the total aquaculture volume and 71.4% of total export earnings in 2013, king salmon 12.2% of the total aquaculture volume and 22.8% of total export earnings and oysters 4.4% of the total aquaculture volume and 5.8% of total export earnings.

There are currently 23 279 hectares of allocated water space for marine-based aquaculture. Of this space, approximately 56% is near shore, 38% is considered open-ocean, and 6% is undeveloped space in interim aquaculture marine areas (AMAs).

New aquaculture legislation passed on 19 August 2011 sets the legal framework needed to support further growth in the aquaculture sector. It made changes to the Aquaculture Reform (Repeals and Transitional Provisions) Act 2004, the Fisheries Act 1996, the Maori Commercial Aquaculture Claims Settlement Act 2004, and the Resource Management Act 1991 to help the aquaculture industry develop.

The Government believes that aquaculture production will increase at a moderate rate in the short to medium term until new farms established under the new changes are up to full operating production by 2014-2015.

Further details on the aquaculture sub-sector is provided in the FAO National Aquaculture Sector Overview (NASO).
Recreational sub-sectorRecreational fishing is an important component of New Zealand’s fishing industry and within the Quota Management System (QMS) for most species and stocks, an explicit recreational take is provided for within the Total Allowable Catch (TAC). For example, the commercial TACC in 2013 for Yellow Fin tuna was 263 t, the recreational allocation 60 t and the customary (Maori) allocation 30 t These specific recreational allocations vary between species and between areas depending on the importance of the species in question to recreational fishers.

However, no regular collection of data on actual recreational landings is made and therefore the allocated recreational take within the QMS is a broad allocation tool to ensure resource sustainability rather than a definitive and regulated recreational take.

Recreational fishing is carried out along much of the New Zealand coastline and in inland lakes and rivers. Inland, freshwater sportfish fishing for trout and salmon requires licences to be issued for lake and river fishing throughout New Zealand. However, coastal marine fishing requires no licences. Recreational fishing is concentrated on areas around major cities – all of which are on the coast – with the North Island cities of Auckland and Wellington being important centers for recreational fishing.

Management measures in place depend on the species being caught and include catch limits, closed areas, gear restrictions such as mesh size, gear type and amount, size limits and closed seasons. The issue of specifically designated and allocated recreational fishing areas is currently being examined.

Whilst species taken vary regionally, the most important recreational fishery is snapper. Other sought after species are kahawai, blue cod, paua, scallops, billfish and rock lobster.

The total recreational catch for all species in New Zealand is estimated at about 25,000 t of marine fish and approximately 25% of the population (about 1.1 million persons) participate in recreational fishing at least once a year. A survey of the recreational sector in 20072. provided a snapshot of the recreational sector and attitudes which showed, among other things, that:
  • One quarter of all New Zealanders fished recreationally more than once in the past 12 months
  • 6 out of 10 recreational fishers report that they are satisfied with their catch
  • 85% of the population think that up to 10 fish per recreational fisher is a reasonable daily allowance and 85% of recreational fishers agree (the current limit is 20 for most finfish)
  • 64% of the population think that it is reasonable to require recreational fishers to record their catch and more than half (55%) of the recreational fishers agree.

(2)Brunton survey, available at http://www.seafoodindustry.co.nz/n403,56.html)
Post-harvest sectorFish utilizationThe majority of products produced and exported are for human consumption although some pelagic species are produced for fish bait in fresh, frozen or processed form. Of the finfish species, 3% by volume are exported as fresh product, 19% as processed product with the majority (76%) being exported as frozen (including frozen fillets and headed & gutted) product. The emphasis on frozen and processed products reflects the distance of New Zealand from most of its markets.

High value species such as rock lobster are more often sold as fresh, live product with 91% of rock lobster exports being live. Ninety eight percent of other shellfish species (mussels, oysters and abalone) are exported as fresh or frozen product with the remainder being in processed form.

Fish marketsBecause of the small population and limited domestic market, the vast majority of New Zealand’s fish production is exported, as noted above. In 2010, the top five markets for New Zealand fish exports were as follows:

Table 7 – New Zealand – Top five markets for New Zealand fish exports

Country 2010 Export Value (USD ) % of Total 2010 Export Value
Australia 207.7 million 19.2%
Hong Kong 181.1 million 16.8%
China, Peoples Republic Of 144.9 million 13.4%
United States 129.1 million 11.9%
Japan 93.4 million 8.6%

The importance of the China market has increased dramatically since 2008. In 2012 China became the largest market for exports of New Zealand fish and fish products (some of this product is processed in China for re-export to its final destination). This increase has largely been driven by increasing exports of live rock lobsters to that country, which were valued at USD 204.6 million in 2013, 96% of the total value of all rock lobster exports. The rise of China as New Zealand’s fastest growing market has been assisted significantly by the signing of a Free Trade Agreement between the two countries in 2008 which came into effect in 2012.
Socio-economic contribution of the fishery sectorSeafood ranks within the top five sectors contributing to the New Zealand economy and while domestic consumption of fish has increased in recent years, around 90% of fish is exported thereby providing important trade benefits for New Zealand.

There is a high degree of vertical integration in New Zealand commercial fishing operations i.e. typically fishing companies are involved in both catching and processing of fish. In some regions the quantities of fish harvested are a small contribution to the total New Zealand output but these smaller, typically mid-water and inshore fishing operations are of local economic importance. In these areas the fish may be transported to processing centres. For example fish landed in Northland or the Bay of Plenty may be trucked for processing and distribution in Auckland.

TradeWith a small domestic population, fish production exceeding 500,000 t and a number of highly prized and priced species, such as rock lobster, New Zealand is a major exporter of fish and fish products, with these exports valued at USD 1.244 billion in 2012. Imports are modest at around USD 148 million per annum. Fisheries therefore generate a significant annual trade surplus for New Zealand.

In 2013, the top five exported fish species by value were as follows:

Species Export Value (FoB, USD )
Rock Lobster 212.8 million
Hoki 108.9 million
Mussels 136.7 million
Squid 63.3 million
Salmon (All) 62.1 million

Food securityMajor exports and markets are described above and New Zealand continues to actively pursue trade arrangements for the benefit of the industry. New Zealand signed a Free Trade Agreement with China in April 2008, which resulted in tariff concessions for New Zealand fish products entering China from 2012.EmploymentThe New Zealand fishing fleet is highly mechanized and efficient, resulting in direct employment in the industry being relatively low and productivity per employee high. In 2012, total direct employment was approximately 2 100, 1 300 of whom were employed in marine fisheries and 700 in the aquaculture industry. In addition to this direct employment, there are additional employees engaged in downstream industries such as fish processing, transport and export although no figures are available.Rural developmentThe New Zealand fishing industry is mainly located in coastal, rural areas and therefore provides significant socio-economic benefits to these areas including supporting local economies and providing employment opportunities. In addition, the fishing industry is a major contributor to indigenous Maori employment, economic development and maintenance of cultural traditions, with more than 50% of fish quota being controlled by Maori interests.
Trends, issues and developmentConstraints and opportunitiesThe distance from major markets provides New Zealand with both a constraint and an opportunity to further develop its fish export markets. Live product will continue to be difficult to transport over long distances for most species and therefore reliance will remain with various frozen and, increasingly, processed products.

New Zealand’s reputation for sound fisheries management to achieve stock sustainability and its remote geographical location will, however, ensure that its fish products remain in high demand as sustainability, food safety and environmental issues become more important for consumers in many markets. As a result, prices for its exported product are likely to rise in the longer term, although exchange rate variations may cause short term volatility.

With more than 350 fish stocks under Quota Management System arrangements, New Zealand undertakes regular assessment of the status of the stocks which are published in publicly-available documents (see below). The most recent (2013) stock status report concludes that 82% of stocks managed through the QMS are not overfished, representing 96% of commercial landings. Recovery plans are in place for those stocks that have been assessed as over-fished.

Aquaculture production is also being developed for further growth and, again, the country’s environmental and management credentials will likely result in continued high demand for its aquaculture product.
Government and non-government sector policies and development strategiesThe Government’s fisheries and aquaculture sector policies are generally based on the principles of Ecological Sustainable Development (ESD) and include the principles of (a) sustainable resources (b) equitable allocation of resources (c) minimizing impacts on marine biodiversity (d) participatory management between Government, industry and non-Government organizations (e) recognition of the economic and social consequences of management decisions (f) no Government subsidies to the fishing industry but, rather, a process of ‘cost recovery’ where management, research and other costs are paid for by the industry in recognition of the private benefits that accrue to industry as a result of sustainable management.

Management to achieve sustainable fish stocks include a standard for maintaining each exploited fish stock. This Harvest Strategy Standard for New Zealand Fisheries specifies four measures relating to the status of New Zealand’s fish stocks and fisheries:
  • the soft limit – a biomass level below which a stock is deemed to be “overfished” or depleted and needs to be actively rebuilt;
  • the hard limit – a biomass level below which a stock is deemed to be “collapsed” where fishery closures should be considered in order to rebuild a stock at the fastest possible rate;
  • the overfishing threshold – a rate of extraction that, if exceeded, will lead to the stock biomass declining below management targets and/or limits; and
  • the management target – usually a biomass level, but sometimes a fishing mortality rate, that stocks are expected to fluctuate around.
Fish stocks are expected to fluctuate around their targets and simply being below the management target does not mean that the stock is being fished unsustainably. Of greater importance is the number of stocks that are below biomass limits, or where overfishing is occurring.New Zealand reports regularly on the status of its exploited fish stocks against this Harvest Strategy Standard through MPI reports on The Status of New Zealand’s Fisheries. The Status Report for 2013 reported on 169 stocks or sub-stocks out of a total of 350 significant stocks managed under New Zealand’s Quota Management System (QMS).The stocks with sufficient information to determine their status make up the majority of commercial landings.

Of the 139 stocks or sub-stocks with known status relative to the soft limit (the lower bound on the desirable population size), 114 (82.0%) have been determined to be above the soft limit (i.e. NOT overfished) based on the 2013 assessment or evaluation. In terms of tonnage of landings, 96.2% of stocks of known status were above the soft limit in 2013.

In 2013, 25 stocks were considered to be overfished (below the soft limit). These were southern Blue Fin tuna and Pacific Blue Fin tuna (highly migratory species that are present seasonally in New Zealand waters), three stocks of black cardinal fish, five stocks of bluenose, six stocks or sub-stocks of orange roughy, three stocks or sub-stocks of snapper, two stocks or sub-stocks of scallops, and one stock or sub-stock each of oyster, paua, John dory and rig.

Rebuilding programmes or Total Allowable Catch (TAC)/TACC reductions are in place in these fisheries to allow them to rebuild to target levels.Non-Governmental organisations’ sector policies for both capture fisheries and aquaculture are specifically included in the development of harvest strategies and management plans through the participatory management process.

The overall strategic development policies described above have been developed and elaborated in the publication Fisheries 2030, available at the Ministry of Fisheries website, http://www.fish.govt.nz/en-nz/Fisheries+2030/default.htm.
Research, education and trainingResearchResearch to support the fisheries and aquaculture industries is not undertaken solely by Government but is tendered through a competitive tendering process. The Ministry for Primary Industries purchases specific research, the aim of which is to provide information required to ensure a sustainable utilization of New Zealand’s fisheries resources. There are six key research areas under which research programmes are tendered and each has its specific goals. These are:
  • Fisheries resources – to provide information on sustainable yields and stock status required for sustainable utilization of New Zealand’s fisheries resources
  • Harvest levels – to determine the nature and extent of commercial and recreational catch, Maori customary take, and illegal catch and fishery induced mortality
  • Aquaculture and enhancement research – to provide information and to ensure that aquaculture and enhancement activities are sustainable, and to determine the effects on wild fisheries and the aquatic environment
  • Aquatic environment research – to determine the nature and extent of the impacts of fishing and diseases on the aquatic environment
  • Cultural, economic and social research – to provide information on cultural, economic and social factors that may need to be considered in the decision-making process to enable people to provide for their social, economic and cultural well-being
  • Traditional fisheries research – to provide information on traditional and customary factors that may need to be considered in the management process to enable Maori to provide for their traditional and customary well-being.
All fisheries research (except traditional) contracted by the Ministry for Primary Industries is awarded following a competitive tendering for projects. Participating organizations register with the Ministry as potential providers of research services where they are assessed as qualified providers. Information on research projects and the tender process is available from http://www.fish.govt.nz/research-opportunities

The seafood industry has its own research programmes and invests over 2% of gross returns into research and development - much of this being in environmental areas. In addition, an industry initiative established the Seafood Innovations Company, a joint venture between the New Zealand Seafood Industry Council and the New Zealand Institute for Plant and Food Research, to promote the carrying out of research relating to the seafood industry in New Zealand. The role of this company is to promote industry-initiated research and development projects primarily aimed at increasing the value of existing harvests, reducing harvesting and processing costs, and enhancing consumer-driven product attributes. Information on this initiative is available from http://www.seafoodinnovations.co.nz.
Education and trainingThe Seafood Industry Training Organization (SITO) operates as an integral part of the seafood industry to provide a nationally recognized training programme designed to enhance the industry operating environment, support improvements in product quality, and build capacity for an innovative workforce consistent with a self-regulating industry. The organization caters for the training needs of both the capture and aquaculture sectors. Information on the work of SITO is available from http://www.sito.co.nz/
Foreign aidNew Zealand receives no foreign aid related to its fisheries or aquaculture industries although joint research and management is often undertaken with other countries and organizations, particularly Australia and the South Pacific Commission.
Institutional frameworkResponsibility for administrating the various Acts related to commercial, recreational and Maori fisheries lies with the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), On 1 July 2011, the previous Ministry of Fisheries (MFish) merged with the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry with this new ministry becoming the Ministry for Primary Industries on 30 April 2012.

The merger enhanced MPI’s ability to deliver high-quality services and support to the whole of the primary sector. It also enabled MPI to deliver more integrated strategic advice on long-term economic growth through the sustainable management of natural resources used by the primary sector.

With the creation of this new Ministry, a new organizational structure was developed with six branches. These are:
  • Sector Partnerships & Programmes
    The Sector Partnerships and Programmes (SPP) branch delivers MPI’s non-regulatory programmes and initiatives to promote sustainable economic growth, such as Primary Growth Partnerships, the Sustainable Farming Fund and the Maori Agribusiness programme. SPP has an important role in linking government with industry and provides a clear entry point for stakeholders seeking access to growth-related initiatives. Along with the Policy and Trade branch, SPP acts as a hub for MPI’s economic development functions.
  • Operations
    The Operations branch has a critical role in preventing harmful organisms crossing New Zealand’s borders. It manages border and compliance activities as well as preparing for, and responding to, any biosecurity incursions that may occur. The branch also manages MPI’s centralized intelligence, planning and co-ordination group which was established to manage food, biosecurity and animal welfare responses consistently and effectively.
  • Regulation & Assurance
    Regulation and Assurance supports primary producers and consumers by implementing the full range of MPI’s legislative and regulatory frameworks. The core of MPI’s regulatory functions sits in this branch. This Branch is the main MPI Branch responsible for fisheries management in addition to biosecurity, food safety and animal welfare. Regulation and Assurance also focuses on ensuring that all parts of the regulatory systems are working by way of its audit, assurance and monitoring functions and connects with Operations in particular.
  • Policy & Trade
    The Policy and Trade branch provides sector-level strategic thinking, policy advice and analysis, and oversees government-to-government relationships to maximize export opportunities. The branch incorporates market access functions, and leads MPI’s involvement in New Zealand’s trade system. It has a strong focus on sustainable economic growth, resource management and engaging on key issues of interest to New Zealand’s primary sectors.
  • Office of the Director-General
    The Office of the Director-General branch provides direction-setting and supporting services across the Ministry, and direct support to MPI’s Director-General. The branch’s advice and services span strategy and planning; service design; project and portfolio management; legal services; communications and marketing; assurance, internal audit and governance functions; Ministerial processes; and Official Information Act requests. In addition, the branch has responsibility for the commercial Crown Forestry operation.
  • Corporate Services
    The Corporate Services branch provides support services and maintains systems and work practices that enable MPI to deliver its core functions. The MPI, in its fisheries management, regulation and development role, has a high degree of involvement with other agencies with overlapping roles including the Department of Conservation and the Ministry for the Environment. Local regional government agencies also have a role particularly in terms of coastal marine environmental management and use. In addition, the Ministry has a high degree of involvement with stakeholder groups with an interest and direct involvement in both fisheries and the marine environment. These include:
  • Recreational fishing organizations such as the Recreational Fishing Council and Option 4;
  • Maori groups including individual Iwi groups as well as national organizations such as Te Ohu Kaimoana;
  • Commercial fishing groups such as the New Zealand Seafood Industry Council and the New Zealand Fishing Industry Guild, New Zealand Aquaculture Council Inc and groups organized nationally or regionally around specific fisheries or areas;
  • Conservation/environmental groups, both international and national groups, including World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), Greenpeace and the Royal Forest and Bird Society.
  • Statistics New Zealand, which has responsibility for the collection of national statistics, including those related to fisheries, including export and import figures. Their website is http://www.stats.govt.nz/
Legal frameworkThe primary fisheries legislation is the Fisheries Act (1996), which sets out the sustainability and administrative requirements for the management and enforcement of wild harvest fisheries, management of the effects of fishing and the management of the effects of aquaculture on fishing activity within New Zealand waters. This Act is administered by the Ministry for Primary Industries. In addition, the Ministry is responsible for administering The Maori Fisheries Act 2004 which superseded the Treaty of Waitangi (Fisheries Claims) Settlement Act 1992, which gave effect to the settlement of commercial and customary fisheries obligations arising from the Treaty of Waitangi.

There is a range of subordinate legislation also managed by MPI. In many cases the authority for action in relation to this legislation is delegated to the Chief Executive or Business Managers within the Ministry. The majority of this subordinate legislation is in the form of Regulations that establish rules for day-to-day commercial fisheries in New Zealand waters, and recreational and customary Maori Treaty obligations.
Alder, J. and D. Pauly, (Eds). 2008. A comparative assessment of biodiversity, fisheries and aquaculture in 53 countries’ exclusive economic zones. University of British Columbia Fisheries Centre Research Report 16(7), 94pp .
Fisheries 2030. New Zealand Ministry of Fisheries, 2009, available at http://www.fish.govt.nz/en-nz/Fisheries+2030/default.htm.
Annual report 2010/11. New Zealand Ministry of Fisheries. Available at http://www.fish.govt.nz/en-nz/Publications/default.htm .
Economic Review 2014. Seafood New Zealand. available at http://www.seafoodnewzealand.org.nz/publications/economic-review/ .
Holland, D.S; 2010. Management Strategy Evaluation and Management Procedures: Tools for Rebuilding and Sustaining Fisheries. OECD Food, Agriculture and Fisheries Papers, No. 25. Paris, OECD Publishing.
Training, Seafood, New Zealand Industry Training Organisation. Available at http://www.nzito.co.nz/seafood1.cfm.
Ministry for Primary Industries website. Available at http://www.mpi.govt.nz/fisheries.
National Institute for Water & Atmospheric Research, Fisheries Research Section, Website https://www.niwa.co.nz/fisheries.
The Status of New Zealand Fisheries, 2013. Available at http://fs.fish.govt.nz/Page.aspx?pk=113&dk=23424.

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