Key Facts

New Zealand Fisheries

  • Approximately 600,000 tonnes of seafood (excluding aquaculture) is harvested from New Zealand's waters each year.
  • The seafood industry employs over 20,000 people.
  • New Zealand earns around $1.79 billion in seafood exports each year.
  • New Zealand's marine fisheries waters (Exclusive Economic Zone and territorial sea) measures 4.4m km2, and is the world's fourth largest EEZ, making it an ocean territory 'superpower'.
  • New Zealand's 15,134 km long coastline is the ninth longest in the world.
  • Sustainability of New Zealand fish stocks is ensured through a world leading Quota Management System (QMS) that controls harvest levels for each fish species and area.
  • 130 species are commercially fished in New Zealand. 98 of those species are managed under the QMS in 642 stock areas.
  • Maori own 50% of New Zealand's fishing quota.
  • Each year, the Ministry for Primary Industries reviews the Total Allowable Commercial Catch (TACC) for fish stocks and sets limits so that enough fish remain for breeding.
  • 97% of New Zealand's commercial catch is from sustainable stocks, according to Ministry for Primary Industries research.

Did you know?

  • New Zealand's hoki fisheries were the first major fisheries in the world to be certified sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC). The MSC is the gold-star in certification labels rewarding sustainable seafood practices.
  • New Zealand's southern blue whiting fisheries were the first major whitefish fisheries in the world to be certified sustainable by the MSC.
  • Six different fisheries have been MSC certified; hoki, hake, ling, southern blue whiting, orange roughy and albacore tuna.
  • More than 90% of New Zealand's seabed has never been touched by trawlers, while 30% is protected by law from trawling.
  • 17 areas within the New Zealand EEZ are closed to bottom trawling since April 2007. These areas, known as benthic protection areas, protect at least 10% of each of the different seabed habitat types found within New Zealand waters.
  • New Zealand's benthic protection area network is one of the world's largest marine conservation areas, covering an area four times the country's landmass.
  • New Zealand became one of only two countries to achieve a top ranking in a review of fisheries management systems around the world in 2009, and in a second study, was ranked first among the 53 major fishing nations for managing marine resources.

Related information

There are many other sources of information and statistics around fisheries in New Zealand and globally, here are the links to some of the more popular ones:

The Ministry for Primary Industries is the Government department responsible for the management of the New Zealand fisheries and enforces the Quota Management System.

The Department of Conservation (DOC) is the central government organisation charged with conserving the natural and historic heritage of New Zealand on behalf of and for the benefit of present and future New Zealanders.

The National Institute of Water and Atmosphere (NIWA) has a mission to conduct leading environmental science to enable the sustainable management of natural resources for New Zealand and the planet. Their website contains lots of interesting science based research around seafood and fisheries.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) aims to promote the sustainable development of fisheries and contribute to food security. To implement this major programme, the Fisheries Department focuses its activities, through programmes in fishery resources, fishery policy, fishery industries and fishery information.