Case study: New Zealand hoki fishery — Marine Stewardship Council
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Case study: New Zealand hoki fishery

How the MSC certified New Zealand hoki fishery's management improvements have helped towards the recovery of fish stocks.

BackgroundNew Zealand Hoki vessel fisher

In 2001, New Zealand hoki was the first large-scale whitefish fishery to achieve MSC certification. The fishery was subsequently re-certified in 2007 and 2012. The fishery is currently subject to extensive research, individual transferable quotas (ITQ) and and co-management between industry and government.

Hoki is managed as two stocks: the eastern stock and the western stock. Hoki is a fast growing fish, living for 20-25 years and can grow to over a metre in length. It is caught using bottom trawls except during winter spawning season where pelagic trawls (mid-water) are used.

Actions needed

During the fishery's first five-year certification cycle, improvements had been made on stock management. Between 1995 and 2000, the western stock declined due to low recruitment. This means there were fewer new fish of the required size and age. New improvement action plans on stock rebuilding were therefore introduced. 

Improvements achieved

In 2006, the industry implemented a formal stock rebuilding plan for the western stock, which was monitored annually. The Fisheries Management Plan was finalised and adopted, including reference points and desired rates of recovery in case the fishery falls below target.

Catch limits were reduced through the New Zealand Quota Management System (QMS) and the spawning stock has increased substantially. The western stock is considered to be fully rebuilt and both stocks are now considered to be within sustainable limits. There are currently no improvements needed on stock status and this fishery has completed all its action plans. Since the first certification in 2001, the populations of both New Zealand hoki stocks have more than doubled1..

1. Ministry for Primary Industries. 2013. Fisheries Assessment Plenary May 2013. Stock Assessments and Yield Estimates Volume 1: Introductory sections to jack mackerel. Compiled by the Fisheries Science Group, Ministry for Primary Industries, Wellington, New Zealand. 1357p

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