Reduced hoki catch limits over the past few years have paid off for New Zealand’s second most valuable fishery.

Increases in the Total Allowable Commercial Catch (TACC) levels, from 1 October, for a range of deepwater species, have just been announced by the Minister for Primary Industries, Nathan Guy.

Both the eastern and western hoki stocks are double the size required to produce the statutory maximum sustainable yield. The western hoki stock is now above the management target range set by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), and the eastern stock is at the top of the target range.

MPI says both hoki stocks have risen for each of the past seven years, meaning the hoki fisheries will remain sustainable with a TACC increase of 20,000 tonnes, taking the TACC to 150,000 tonnes.

Deepwater Group CEO, George Clement, says the large western hoki stock (off the west and south coasts) is particularly pleasing.

“This is the main hoki fishery. We have now rebuilt the numbers to well above the optimum target level, so we are very confident about its future. With the number of young fish coming into the stock we can look forward to productive fishing into the future,” he says.

George Clement says the stocks for other major deepwater fisheries have also been increasing and this is reflected in the Minister’s decision to increase several other TACCs.

“Orange roughy, ling and scampi stocks are also in good shape and this has resulted in conservative increases in the TACCs for some of these stocks, which we welcome.”

George Clement says a cautious approach, by MPI and industry, with orange roughy quota owners agreeing to take catches well below the TACC to promote increases in the three orange roughy fisheries, is now also paying dividends.

MPI has increased the ORH3B orange roughy TACC by 900 tonnes as a result of increased numbers. Catches under this limit have been set to still provide for further increases in stock size.

“MPI estimate there are 143 million adult orange roughy in New Zealand waters. They are increasing in most fisheries. MPI and quota owners are focused on increasing numbers further until they reach the optimum target range,” he says.

“While we are not yet up to where we are with hoki, good progress is being made. New acoustic and video technologies have given us a much better measurement of the orange roughy stocks on the Chatham Rise and along the east coast of the North Island. The use of different acoustic frequencies has also enabled us to see and to count orange roughy that were not visible in earlier surveys.”

“A new stock assessment model has been successfully used to demonstrate the orange roughy fishery on the east coast of the North Island is rebuilding under the current catch. This model will be used on three other fisheries during 2013-14.”

“The Minister has approved an increase in the catch limit for the east and south Chatham Rise from 1,950 tonnes to 3,100 tonnes, without endangering a rebuild target,” he says.

“The stock on the northwest Chatham Rise, which we agreed not to fish for the past three years, to promote the rebuild and survey the stock size, been held at the 750 catch limit. Quota owners are contemplating when to reopen this fishery.”