Report reveals the state of NZ fish stocks

The world needn’t worry about the health of New Zealand’s fish stock – the country’s fisheries remain in good standing, according to a new report from the Ministry for the Environment and Statistics New Zealand.

The Environment Aotearoa 2015 report finds that New Zealand’s fisheries are sustainably managed, and that the rate of overfishing is on the decline. The proportion of fish stocks subject to overfishing dropped from 25 percent to 14 percent between 2009 and 2014. What’s more, over 95 percent of the fish caught in 2014 were said to originate from stocks that were not overfished, noted the report.

“This robust and independent report confirms the body of science that tells us that our fish stocks are in good heart and are improving,” said Seafood New Zealand Chief Executive Tim Pankhurst in a prepared statement.

Seabed trawling is also trending downward – over the course of eight years between 1996 and 2014, the number of dredge tows tallied in New Zealand’s waters dropped by 83 percent. Data from 2010 alone revealed that deepwater fishing operators trawled only 1.3 percent of the territorial sea and the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). The fact that trawling mostly occurs in the same locations year-in-year-out seems to limit the extent to which species and their habitats are affected, according to the report.

“New Zealand has international recognition for its sustainable seafood industry,” explained Pankhurst. “Seventy four per cent of New Zealand’s deepwater seafood production is certified sustainable by the international body, Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), the gold-star for sustainable seafood.”

Added Pankhurst: “The performance of our three largest orange roughy fisheries are being assessed against the MSC standard with the aim to progress the other orange roughy fisheries through MSC as well.”

The report mentions concerns regarding bycatch and its effect on seabirds and marine animals – Pankhurst notes that Government agencies and the NGO sector are working diligently “to minimize the impact of bycatch.”

“For example we help fund and participate in the Southern Seabird Solutions Trust to reduce harm to seabirds through fishing. The trust is an alliance of industry, Government, WWF-New Zealand, Te Ohu Kaimoana and recreational anglers. And we have invested heavily in research and technologies to reduce the impact of fishing on marine mammals,” Pankhurst concluded.

Access the report in full here.


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