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Release of new fish stock assessments


14 June 2013


The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has released the latest comprehensive scientific assessment of the status of New Zealand’s fisheries.

“The 2013 plenary report provides us with valuable, peer-reviewed scientific information on the status of our fish stocks and fisheries” says Dr Pamela Mace, Principal Advisor Fisheries Science for MPI.

“Many of the assessments indicate there is scope for increases in current catch limits. Hoki is the “star” performer. A few short years ago, there was concern that the western stock had become depleted. Science has driven strong and decisive management action and ensured the full restoration of hoki New Zealand-wide, even surpassing management benchmarks.”

Highlights of the fisheries assessments include:

• Hoki : Both the eastern and western stocks have increased over seven consecutive years. The abundance of both stocks is now near or above the upper bound of the management target range.

• Chatham Rise orange roughy: A 2012 survey of this stock confirmed the existence of a large new spawning area first discovered in 2011. This has substantially improved the status of the orange roughy stock. The abundance of the stock has further increased slightly since last year.

• West Coast South Island ling and hake: Both of these stocks have been assessed to be well above their management targets.

• East Northland, Hauraki Gulf and Bay of Plenty snapper: While these stocks have increased by up to 70% over the last 15-25 years, they are still only at about half of the level of their current management target. Recent numbers of young fish coming into the population - known as recruitment - have been above average. Five-year projections indicate all three stocks will increase slowly at current catch levels if good recruitment continues.

• North of the South Island snapper: There appears to have been a marked increase in recruitment since 2007, and this has led to a large increase in catch rates over the last two years.

• Southland blue cod: This is the first time a fisheries assessment has been conducted for this stock; it indicates the fishery is performing well and the stock is optimally-utilised.

• South of the South Island paua: The stock appears to be rebuilding towards its management target, although there is uncertainty about the level of the stock and the rate of rebuild. There is no indication of a sustainability risk for the stock under current catch levels.

• East Coast North Island scampi: The population on the lower half of the east coast North Island is now well above its management target.

Wild species fluctuate in abundance as a result of the influence of both fishing and environmental factors, and catch limits for some species may need to be curtailed as part of on-going assessments of fish stocks.

MPI thanks the large number of research providers and scientists; together with technical and non-technical participants for their substantial contributions to this report.

MPI will by the end of June provide management options for public consultation for several fish stocks with new scientific assessments.

The 1,350 page report is split into three volumes:
http://www.mpi.govt.nz/fisheries/commercial/fisheries-assessment-plenary

ENDS

Background:

The May 2013 Fisheries Assessment Plenary Report summarises fishery, biological, stock assessment and stock status information for 82 of New Zealand’s commercial fish species or species groups in a series of Working Group or Plenary reports. This year a new chapter has been added for bladder kelp. An additional 18 species are covered in a smaller Plenary document in November.

Fisheries Assessment Plenary reports take into account the most recent data and analyses available to Fisheries Assessment Working Groups (FAWGs) and the Fisheries Assessment Plenary. They also incorporate relevant analyses undertaken in previous years.

The reports produced for the last 29 years represent a significant annual output for MPI and previously the Ministry of Fisheries and the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries.
Continual improvements have been made in:

• data acquisition

• stock assessment techniques

• the development of reference points to guide fisheries management decisions

• the provision of increasingly comprehensive and meaningful information for a range of audiences.

The May 2013 Plenary now includes Status of the Stocks summary tables for 143 stocks or sub-stocks, spread over 48 species.

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