Orange Roughy Fisheries Certification Timeline

Orange roughy fisheries have been considered by some as contentious.  The fisheries have been variously touted as "unsustainable" and remain "red-listed" as a poor seafood choice by several environmental organisations.

Deepwater Group (DWG) and the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) are committed to ensuring New Zealand's orange roughy fisheries are sustainably managed.  To this effect, we have implemented a suite of comprehensive science, monitoring and management measures since the early 2000s.

We are confident these efforts have been successful and are now verifying this through third-party certification so that our consumers can continue to buy New Zealand orange roughy with confidence.

August - Orange roughy fishery re-certified as sustainable for a second five-year period by the Marine Stewardship Council - read more

November - MRAG Americas is re-assessing the MSC certification for the three orange roughy fisheries. Preliminary findings in their Announce Commence Draft Report (ACDR) can be viewed here. Keep an eye on the Orange Roughy MSC Reassessment 2021 page for updates.

Orange roughy fisheries passed the third annual surveillance audit and closed the two remaining Conditions (effects of fishing on ETP species and availability of information to support the management of fishery impacts on ETP species) meeting the 80% level or higher for all MSC criteria, and confirming they are amongst the top-performing fisheries in the world. (Supporting Documents from the 2020 audit can be accessed here). .

The second annual surveillance audit assessed that progress against two Conditions (stock status and external review of the fishery-specific management system), was sufficient to be rescored and were closed out.
Following objections, the Independent Adjudicator rules to uphold the decision by MRAG to certify the fisheries as sustainable (Public Certification Report). New Zealand orange roughy is MSC certified for 5 years, subject to ongoing performance against the MSC Certification Standard. Conditions of Certification were imposed against four of the 31 Performance Indicators assessed, requiring further work to be undertaken towards achieving a score of SG80 for these against the MSC Certification Standard.  The PIs requiring improvement related to the status of the ORH3B ESCR stock in relation to its target reference point; the effects of fishing on ETP species in the ORH3B NWCR and ORH3B ESCR fisheries; the availability of information to support the management of fishery impacts on ETP species; the requirement for an external review of the fishery-specific management system.
MRAG considers comments from stakeholders and releases their Final Report (Volume 1 and Volume 2), which recommends the fisheries be certified as sustainable against the MSC standard.
MRAG recommends that the fisheries be certified and releases their Draft Report for public comment.
MRAG assesses the information provided and prepares their Draft Report on the assessment of the three orange roughy fisheries.
Three orange roughy fisheries (ORH3B North Chatham Rise, ORH3B East and South Chatham Rise, and ORH7A Challenger) enter full MSC assessment (Stage Three). MRAG Americas was contracted as the ‘Conformity Assessment Body’ (the independent assessors). A site visit, including stakeholder meetings, to gather information on the fisheries was held July-August. All documents provided to the assessors by DWG and MPI have been made public.
Pre-assessments of the four main orange roughy fisheries were undertaken by MRAG Americas. These updated the 2009 pre-assessments and accounted for any changes since that time. For full details and to download MRAG's report, click here.
An Assessment of Environmental Effects of Fishing (AEEF) for each of the four main orange roughy fisheries was undertaken by an expert panel against the MSC Standard. For full details and to download the report, click here.
In response to requests by WWF, DWG developed formal, public and time-bound Fisheries Improvement Plans (FIPs) for each of the four main orange roughy fisheries (i.e. Mid East Coast, ORH3B North Chatham Rise, ORH3B East and South Chatham Rise, and ORH7A Challenger). These have been developed and implemented based on the MSC FIP template and benchmarking tools (Stage Two FCP).
Based on the pre-assessments, DWG and MPI internally implemented a Remedial Action Plan to improve the science and management of the orange roughy fisheries with the objective of aligning the fisheries’ performance with the MSC Standard (Stage Two FCP). To date, the focus has been on the four main orange roughy fisheries, which comprise over 75% of the total orange roughy catch.
Detailed confidential pre-assessments of a range of deepwater fisheries, including four orange roughy fisheries, undertaken by Moody Marine.
All New Zealand orange roughy fisheries undergo a gap analysis with independent and confidential pre-assessments undertaken by Moody Marine (now Intertek) (Stage One of our Fisheries Certification Programme). These pre-assessments provided DWG and MPI with high-level evaluations of each fishery against the MSC Standard and identified areas for improvement in order to achieve certification.
Workshop undertaken to analyse the certification potential of New Zealand EEZ fisheries, including orange roughy.
New acoustic biomass surveys undertaken to inform stock assessments.