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Latest figures on status of NZ fish stocks

2 October 2008

PRESS RELEASE FROM THE MINISTRY OF FISHERIES FOR IMMEDIATE USE

Latest figures on status of New Zealand fish stocks

The latest statistics on the status of New Zealand fish stocks have just been published in the Ministry of Fisheries’ Annual Report, says Ministry Chief Executive Wayne McNee.

“The Ministry currently has enough information to report with reasonable precision on the status of 101 stocks or sub-stocks managed under New Zealand’s Quota Management System (out of a total of 629 stocks), says Wayne McNee. “This is up from 2006/07, when we only had reasonably precise information on the status of 85 stocks. Less-precise information is available on other stocks”

He says of these 101 stocks, 72 are considered near or above the target levels set out in the Fisheries Act. In 2006/07, 72 (out of 85 stocks where we had reasonably precise information) were considered near or above these target levels.

Of the 29 stocks known to be below target levels, three are highly migratory tuna species (which New Zealand has limited influence over).

Others stocks currently below target levels include one of the two stocks of hoki, several orange roughy stocks or sub-stocks, one oreo sub-stock, gemfish, two paua stocks, west coast North Island snapper, all bluenose stocks, and longfin eels.

Allowable catch levels have been reduced in all these fisheries to allow them to rebuild to target levels. In the case of west coast snapper and longfin eel stocks, issues relating to rivers and harbour environments may also be impacting on stocks, says Ministry of Fisheries Chief Scientist Dr Pamela Mace.

Dr Mace says that in the 2007/08 financial year, around $17 million was spent on fisheries data collection, monitoring and stock assessment across a range of stocks.

“This spending is prioritised to focus on stocks with the highest landings or greatest importance, or those considered most at risk of being unsustainable,” she says.

As a result of this latest information, catch limits were increased for two rock lobster and one southern blue whiting stocks – as these had rebuilt to above their target levels. Catch limits were reduced in five bluenose fisheries and the Chatham Rise orange roughy fishery, as these stocks had fallen below their target levels.

Almost $4 million was spent on research and stock assessment for hoki alone, as this is one of New Zealand’s most valuable fish stocks. The 2008 assessment found that the eastern stock continues to be healthy, and the previously-depleted western stock appears to be on the road to recovery.

ENDS

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