Find Fisheries expertise in New Zealand

Fisheries, along with agriculture and forestry, contribute 6% of New Zealand’s GDP (2008) and seafood exports consistently rank as New Zealand’s fourth or fifth largest export earner. New Zealand’s fisheries have developed over the last 30 years from being largely inshore based to having around 70% of catch originating from wild fisheries caught in deep water. New Zealand has a coastline which stretches over 15,000 km and has an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and territorial sea of 4.4 million km2. Although there is a substantial potential fishing area, there is relatively little continental shelf with 72% of the area with water of over 1000 m deep, and only 6% less than 200 m deep. As a result, 70% of the 130 commercially targeted species are taken in deep water fisheries.

New Zealand exports the vast majority (90%) of catch, with only a tenth going directly to domestic consumption. The main export markets are the European Union, the USA, Japan and Australia. Other market destinations include Hong Kong, China and the Republic of Korea and other Asian markets.

The catch profile includes squid, hoki, ling, oreo dories, orange roughy and silver warehou. Important species for the smaller inshore fisheries included in the catch profile are the spiny rock lobster, paua and the snapper. Except for a small commercial fishery for native eel species, inland freshwater fisheries are purely recreational, supporting both local and tourist sport fishing in lakes and rivers.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) works to ensure that fisheries are used in a sustainable way. The primary management mechanism the MPI uses to achieve this is the Quota Management System (QMS) which is designed to protect the future sustainability of the fisheries while facilitating their optimum economic use. The system uses markets, together with scientific assessments of fish stocks to allocate fishing rights.

Fisheries organisations in New Zealand
Ministry of Fisheries