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Publics View Sought On Deepwater Fisheries

NEW ZEALAND - The latest scientific research commissioned by the Ministry of Fisheries has shown important changes in the hoki fishery and two orange roughy fisheries, Ministry of Fisheries Deepwater Fisheries Manager Aoife Martin has said.

The Ministry of Fisheries commissioned around $20 million of research into New Zealand’s fisheries and marine environment last year. This research programme informs and underpins the management of New Zealand’s fisheries using the world-class quota management system.

“These research results show that our management approach has worked but that we have some work still to do to get the right management measures in place for some areas,” Ms Martin said. “Good fisheries management requires an ongoing process of review and adjustment.”

The Ministry of Fisheries has used these research results to develop proposed catch limits for the next fishing year which opens on 1 October this year. These proposals are now open for public submissions until Wednesday 4 August.

Hoki

The hoki fishery continues to rebuild strongly with the latest research showing the fishery is well within sustainable levels and above management target levels in the eastern fishstock.

Two possible catch limit options are proposed, either no change or an increase of 10,000 tonnes.

The science suggests a larger increase would have been sustainable but the Ministry of Fisheries and hoki quota owners want to take a cautious approach,” Ms Martin said.

New Zealand’s western hoki stock, which includes the important fishery off the west coast of the South Island, has recovered well after several years of low “recruitment” (the number of young fish entering the fishery). It is now comfortably within the target range and is projected to increase above target levels, even with the proposed increase in catch. The eastern stock has always been above the minimum target level.

“The rebuilding strategy implemented over the last few years has proven to be highly successful,” said Ms Martin. “We saw a substantial improvement in fish numbers last year and the numbers are even better this year.”

Orange roughy 7A –Challenger Plateau

The orange roughy fishery on the Challenger Plateau, an area north-west of the South Island, has recovered well after being closed since October 2000 to protect long-term sustainability after fish numbers dropped below acceptable levels. The fishery has been recovering and increasing in size over this period.

“The recovery in fish numbers we are seeing is very pleasing and shows that closing fisheries where we need to does produce results” said Ms Martin.

The fishery has now recovered to the point where it could be sustainably opened to fishing again.

The Ministry is proposing a cautious re-opening of this fishery with a conservative catch limit of 500 tonnes. “This would allow for a limited amount of commercial fishing next year that will assess fish numbers and distribution which will help improve information on this fishery,” Ms Martin said. “All fishing activity will be closely monitored by the Ministry of Fisheries.”

Orange roughy 3B – Chatham Rise

The orange roughy fishery on the Chatham Rise, an area between the South Island and Chatham Islands, is showing an ongoing decrease in fish numbers. A rebuilding strategy with a phased reduction in catches has been in place for the past two years.

“The latest results for orange roughy on the Chatham Rise show the rebuilding strategy has not yet had the results we need to see” said Ms Martin.

“Significant catch reductions are already proposed for the next fishing year with the support of the fishing industry but we will need to carefully monitor and assess whether this will be effective” she said. “If not, further measures will be implemented next year.”

the Fish Site Editor

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