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Hake Fishery Prospects Improve?

Tuesday June 22


Hake Fishery Prospects Improve?

Fisheries researchers have detected record numbers of young hake in their annual multi-species fish abundance survey on the Chatham Rise.

Scientists from the National Institute of Water & Atmospheric Research (NIWA) have just completed work establishing the age of hake from the most recent summer’s survey. The survey was commissioned by the Ministry of Fisheries, through levies paid by the fishing industry.

“We have picked up many more two year olds than we have ever seen before, which is an exciting development,” says NIWA project leader, Dr. Mary Livingston.

“We haven’t seen such young hake at all since 1994, and the numbers suggest there may be more juvenile hake on the Chatham Rise now than in any year since the surveys began in 1992.”

“It appears to be good news for the hake fishery, which has been in decline on the Chatham Rise. To be sure of this, however, we will need to see strong numbers of three year olds next year and of four year olds the year after.”

“A single good year may not lead to dramatic increases in the amount of hake available to the commercial fishery. The positive thing is that we can use the ongoing surveys to monitor how much difference this apparent increase in young hake makes to the fishery.”

“I am cautiously optimistic about the hake. I really hope we see more of the young fish, and that hake recruitment does improve. But if it doesn’t, we definitely need to know about it, so that the best possible advice can be used to help set catch levels.”

“The numbers of young fish are likely to be affected by a complex interaction of factors. These include the population of breeding adults, the type and availability of food, the presence of predators, ocean currents, sea temperatures, and commercial fishing. It's important to collect fisheries data consistently and regularly, as we do in this Chatham Rise survey, in order to understand these factors and to assess the state of our fish stocks accurately." For more information, contact:

Dr Mary Livingston Michele Hollis NIWA Scientist, middle depth fisheries NIWA Science Communications 04 386 0873 04 386 0483 025 618 7533 027 255 2500 BACKGROUND

About the Chatham Rise Survey

Ongoing support for the Chatham Rise fish abundance surveys by the fishing industry, the Ministry of Fisheries, and researchers alike has resulted in New Zealand’s best offshore time series.

Fish stocks are surveyed each year at about 100 different locations on the Chatham Rise, chosen by stratified random selection.

Data are collected on all QMS (Quota Management System) species sampled by the survey, especially hoki, hake and ling, as well as other species such as rattails and javelin fish which are not part of the QMS system, but still form a significant part of the fish community. There are now 13 consecutive years of data from this Chatham Rise survey which means NIWA can evaluate trends not only in fish abundance and recruitment, but changes to fish communities that can occur as a result of changes in fishing activity and environmental trends.

The surveys also provide invaluable data on broader aspects of the marine ecosystem.

The surveys are funded by the Ministry of Fisheries, through levies paid by the fishing industry.

About Hake (Merluccius australis)

A moist, white-fleshed fish. Believed to be rather slow-growing: hake on the Chatham Rise start spawning at age 7-8 years. Average size: 70-100 cm, reaching about 130 cm. Colour: silvery grey above paling to white below. Voracious predators: feed on medium sized fishes and squid.

ENDS

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