Fisheries

Latest news

Strange fish behaviour has been captured by NIWA scientists working in New Zealand’s Marlborough Sounds.
NIWA may be coming to a boat ramp near you to learn more about the recreational fishing catch in New Zealand.
NIWA are studying the ocean off Tairāwhiti and Hawke’s Bay to see how Cyclone Gabrielle has impacted the health of fisheries habitats and seabed ecosystems.
NIWA scientists have discovered the origins of cryptic markings found in Aotearoa New Zealand’s deep sea.

Our work

Fisheries New Zealand estimate that 600,000 people, or approximately 13 percent of New Zealand’s population, go recreational fishing in our waters annually.

Understanding the trends in these fisheries is key to ensuring sustainable fisheries across the country. To help build this picture, NIWA is contracted by Fisheries New Zealand to gather information about recreational fishing practices and catch from popular fishing locations.

Where and when?

Latest videos

Open wide: Snapper teeth secrets

NIWA and University of Auckland masters student Georgia Third is getting up close and personal with snapper guts and teeth to understand the differences between biologically distinct snapper populations in New Zealand.

Commercial catch sampling

The Otolith is the earbone of the fish and like the rings on a tree it can tell us about the story of the fish's life. NIWA has looked at 27000 otoliths in the last year each one contributing to the story of key species in the fishery.  Together this information informs managers about the growth, recruitment, and selectivity of the fishing gear which is crucial for managers to make sustainability decisions. Good management of a fishery requires good data. This video is a look at what goes into collecting that data. 

Antarctic science onboard NIWA’s RV Tangaroa

Researchers are working their way through a wealth of new Antarctic marine data after RV Tangaroa successfully completed its five week scientific voyage to the Ross Sea. Voyage leader and principal fisheries scientist Dr Richard O’Driscoll outlines the team’s busy research schedule examining biodiversity and ocean dynamics in the world’s largest marine protected area.

Check out more stories from the 2021 Antarctic voyage

RV Tangaroa: New Zealand’s world-class research vessel

The ideal research platform

NIWA proudly owns and operates RV Tangaroa, a 70 m Ice Class scientific platform.
The research vessel supports oceanographic and fishery surveys throughout the South Pacific, New Zealand, the sub-Antarctic islands and the Ross Sea.

The diverse range of modern and sophisticated equipment available onboard enables sampling and measurements to be taken from the sea surface, through the water column to the seabed and below.

Tangaroa is New Zealand’s only ocean-going research vessel, equipped with dynamic positioning, allowing her to remain stationary or track a precise path over the seabed, even in the often-challenging Southern Ocean environment.

The vessel is operated by 15 full time crew employed by NIWA, highly experienced in deploying, recovering and operating a broad range of scientific equipment.

The vessel can survey the seafloor to hydrographic quality, and is able to produce high-resolution imagery of the geology up to 200m below the seabed, and even deeper using NIWA’s multichannel seismic system.
NIWA can provide or source most key equipment required for ocean science including a range of fishing nets and acoustic sounders developed for fishery and water column surveys, varying models and makes of autonomous and remotely-operated underwater vehicles, an assortment of underwater cameras, seabed landers, and moorings.

Tangaroa is an ideal vessel for ocean exploration, atmospheric, fishery and marine geology research.

Our services and expertise

NIWA has more than 40 years of experience working in New Zealand’s marine realm and has conducted 14 voyages to Antarctica and many more in sub-Antarctic waters.
We provide world-class services and expertise, and can easily adapt to support new and innovative opportunities, making every project a success.

Most snapper mature between 3 and 5 years of age or around 230 mm in length. Adult snapper can grow to 1 m in length (over 15 kg) and live to over 60 years in age.

Using food webs to manage coastal resources

PDF of this article (187 KB)

Te Tapuwae o Rongokako Marine Reserve, north of Gisborne. (Photo: Kerry Fox, DOC)

Debbie Freeman counts lobsters on the intertidal reef platform in Te Tapuwae o Rongokako Marine Reserve. (Photo: Jamie Quirk, DOC)

Red rock lobster can thrive in a marine protected area. (Photo: Ian Nilsson)

Trophic pyramid of a typical New Zealand coastal reef.

Coastal managers face a balancing act when it comes to competing demands for marine resources.

Rig shark is an important inshore commercial fish species in New Zealand, and we need to understand more about their habitats, movements, nursery grounds and vulnerability to human impacts to ensure they are managed sustainably and their productivity is enhanced.

NIWA expends considerable effort on determining the age of commercial fish species. But why age a fish? And how do we do it?
CASAL is an advanced software package developed by NIWA for fish stock assessment.
View data that show reported target catch and estimated bycatch.
In export terms, the commercial eel fishery in New Zealand began in earnest in the 1960s and expanded rapidly until the early 1970s, peaking at slightly over 2,000 t (tonnes) in 1972.
Accurate reporting on the amount of fish and invertebrates that are caught and discarded by New Zealand’s commercial fishing industry is vital to effective management of these fisheries.

As New Zealand's "Mr Eel", Niwa's Dr Don Jellyman has heard every tall tale. And some of them may be true.

The role of toothfish in the ecosystem.

Inputs into stock assessment

Scientists from around the globe are meeting in Nelson next week to discuss the latest advances in fisheries technology.

Boaties in Tasman and Golden Bays are likely to notice a larger than usual vessel working close to shore over the next few days.

Effects of climate change on fish are being studied at NIWA's Northland Marine Research Centre.
A voyage to the Kermadec Islands has resulted in the discovery of many species either new to science or not previously found in the area.
Exploring the deepsea

Despite many centuries of maritime exploration, only a fraction of our planet's seafloor has been observed. NIWA Deepsea Scientist Di Tracey tells us what it feels like to probe deep beneath the waves to see what's living on the ocean floor.

NIWA scientists are asking for help from people who have had a long association with East Northland, Hauraki Gulf or Marlborough Sounds.
NIWA is looking for people who have had a long association with the Hauraki Gulf or Marlborough Sounds to help them with a research project on juvenile fish habitats.
Over the last few days the “dive team” have been recording corals, fishes, urchins and other invertebrates from the shallow waters (0-30m) surrounding Raoul Island to complement the biodiversity records from the deeper ocean collected by the other scientists onboard.
Mesopelagic trawl from the RV Tangaroa October 2016 Kermadec Voyage

Using a very wide net to complete a 960m deep mesopelagic trawl near the Kermadec Islands has brought up a large number and diverse range of deep water species.

Scientists are especially interested in lanternfish and their nightly feeding movements from the ocean depths to the surface - a daily round-trip journey for these tiny fish.

This type of sampling has rarely been carried out at these depths. The distribution and range of marine species and their numbers recorded in the trawl
will provide a snapshot in time for researchers studying longer term changes in biodiversity across South Pacific waters.

The temperature through the water column has been measured from 19°C at the surface to only 5°C at 1000m depth. These recordings also help scientists build up a picture of the ecological impacts of climate change on marine life in the area over time.

The Quota Management System, which some say saved New Zealand fisheries, is 30 years old today. The system is founded on science that studies fish biology, abundance and distribution, and estimates how many can be caught and still keep the population healthy.
Everyone knows they’re out there, but how well do you know your sharks? NIWA looks at four of the most common sharks you’re likely to spot this summer.
Te Papa has released a publication containing information, including pictures, distribution maps for all 1,262 known fish species found in our waters.
Identifying creepy crawlies in your local stream just got a whole lot easier and faster, thanks to a new 3D identification system developed by a NIWA researcher.
A successful electronic tagging project means scientists have made some important discoveries about spinetail devilrays.

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All staff working on this subject

Hydro-ecological Modeller
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Marine Ecologist - Quantitative Modeller
Principal Scientist - Fisheries
Population Modeller
Freshwater Fish Ecologist
Fisheries Population Modeller
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Principal Scientist - Fisheries Modeller
Regional Manager - Christchurch
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Fisheries Acoustics Scientist
Fisheries Scientist (Quantitative Stock Assessment)
Principal Scientist - Marine Ecology
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Marine Biosecurity Scientist
Fisheries Scientist
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Principal Technician - Fisheries
Spatial Fisheries Modeller
Marine Ecology Technician
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