28 September, 2012

New Zealand’s hoki fisheries were not only the first major whitefish fisheries in the world to earn Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification, they are now one of the first in the world to be certified for a third time.

“New Zealand’s hoki fisheries are recognised as some of the best sustainably-managed trawl fisheries in the world. Independent verification of this through the MSC programme is an integral part of our quality standards,” said George Clement, CEO of Deepwater Group, which represents hoki quota owners.

“The New Zealand hoki fisheries were the third ever to gain MSC certification back in 2001. We then achieved certification again in 2007 and now for the third time in 2012. This is testament to the industry’s commitment to continuous improvement and to the collaborative partnership with the Ministry for Primary Industries.”

That commitment has seen the Deepwater Group and the Ministry actively developing and applying new methods and strategies to reduce interactions with seabirds and fur seals, and to protect a broad range of seabed habitats and ecosystems through closure of 30 per cent of New Zealand’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in the Benthic Protection Areas.

The partnership with the Ministry has enabled quota owners and government to align their strategic and operational objectives, resulting in a long-term science and information plan and more investment in monitoring and research.

“Independent science and monitoring provide an essential platform to enable managers to make informed long term decisions to ensure the ongoing sustainable management of New Zealand’s hoki fisheries,” said Mr Clement.

“Annual research surveys monitor the numbers of hoki in both stocks and allow estimation of the number of young fish coming into these fisheries. Between 1995 and 2001 natural fluctuations resulted in fewer young hoki joining the western stock, resulting in a decline in stock size.

“In response, hoki catch limits on one of the two main stocks, the Western stock, were reduced from 180,000 tonnes to 30,000 tonnes. These significant cuts hurt the industry, but were accepted in recognition of the long-term benefits.

“It’s a completely different picture today with the science indicating that the stocks have rebuilt, and cautious catch limits are in place which provide for the natural fluctuations in numbers of hoki.”

Mr Clement said that numbers of hoki in the Western stock have more than doubled and catches had been increased to 70,000 tonnes for the 2011/12 year. Management targets are being met for both of the stocks.

“The MSC standards are very rigorous and the hoki fisheries have been assessed to meet these in all three areas: the status of hoki stocks, the environmental impacts of hoki fishing, and the management and governance systems that are in place.

“This is a great result for hoki fisheries and is a tangible demonstration of the continuing commitment by industry and government to ensuring our fisheries are managed sustainably and continue to provide a valuable food source,” says Mr Clement.


For information about MSC: www.msc.org


Hoki (Macruronus novaezelandiae) is New Zealand's most important commercial fish species. It lives mainly within 200-800m in depth and is taken by mid-water and bottom trawling.

Hoki Fishery
• Hoki are found throughout New Zealand waters, but the main catching grounds are off the West Coast of the South Island, in Cook Strait, and on the Chatham Rise.
• New Zealand's hoki fisheries are managed by strict quotas, which allow only a set amount of hoki to be taken commercially each year. This Total Allowable Commercial Catch (TACC) was set at 130,000 tonnes for the 2011/12 fishing year, compared with 120,000 tonnes in the 2010/11 fishing year.

Hoki Exports
• Total exports of hoki in the year ended December 2011 were worth $NZ 183.5 million, making it New Zealand’s third highest earning fish species.
• The major markets for hoki are Europe and Australia taking around 70% of the total export. The Asian nations are also important markets.