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.

NIWA researchers have produced a series of calendars to inform people when New Zealand's native freshwater and sport fish are migrating and spawning.
NIWA's publication "Freshwater Fish Spawning and Migration Periods" is designed to help people working near freshwater to minimise effects of their work on freshwater fish species.
Taking the pulse of Antarctica’s ocean ecosystem

Niwa scientists have anchored an echosounder to the sea floor of Terra Nova Bay that could reveal the mystery of silverfish reproduction under the Antarctic ice.

Silverfish are important in the marine food web, providing a link between zooplankton and predators like penguins seals, and toothfish. While silverfish eggs are observed in abundance in Terra Nova Bay every spring, no-one knows whether the fish migrate into the bay to lay them under the cover of the winter ice, or if the eggs wash in on the current.

Read a media release about this research

NIWA scientists have anchored an echosounder to the sea floor of Terra Nova Bay that could reveal the mystery of silverfish reproduction under the Antarctic ice.
Now back on dry land, Voyage Leader Richard O'Driscoll reflects on the final days of RV Tangaroa's 2015 Antarctica expedition.
The six-week New Zealand-Antarctic Ecosystem Voyage saw RV Tangaroa travel through the Southern Ocean to the Ross Sea to conduct a range of scientific fieldwork. The voyage was a collaboration between Antarctica New Zealand, NIWA and the Australian Antarctic Division.
This research will investigate whether Antarctic silverfish eggs are spawned elsewhere or whether there is a mass migration of silverfish to their coastal spawning sites each winter.
Commercial toothfish fishing in the Ross Sea has the potential to affect some demersal (bottom-dwelling) fish species in the region through by-catch and ecosystem changes.
A NIWA study has shown that environmental factors influence the level of mercury in fish and other organisms in lakes in New Zealand's North Island geothermal area
Next week, NIWA scientists will showcase the latest version of the National Freshwater Fish Database at an international conference in Hamilton.

Scientists are starting to get a better picture of how recreational fisheries change over time, thanks to a few web cameras and a bit of help from the public.

A Different Kettle of Fish

Take a look inside NIWA's Bream Bay aquaculture facility. NIWA scientists talk about how the operation works, the species that they are working on and why the facility is so important for New Zealand's aquaculture industry.

NIWA has a number of projects that are allowing us to better understand the interaction between snapper and their environment over their life cycle.

Paua is a New Zealand summer delicacy.

When someone says "paua fritter" they are usually referring to something made from blackfoot paua. The blackfoot paua (Haliotis iris) species is endemic to New Zealand and found throughout the country. It is most abundant on shallow reefs.

The mako shark is fast and fascinating. The shortfin mako, Isurus oxyrinchus, has been recorded swimming at speeds of about 100km/h. It's the fastest of the world's shark species. Mako sharks are found in waters right around New Zealand. Only occasionally are they found close inshore.

Recently, Australian and New Caledonian shark scientists downloaded data from acoustic receivers deployed off the east coast of Australia and in the Coral Sea and discovered that great white sharks acoustically tagged in New Zealand had been visiting.

Understanding the feeding relationships between different species in the Ross Sea, and how they are affected by commercial fishing, is essential for the establishment of a sustainable fishery in the region.

NIWA scientists trawled deep – deeper than ever before – down to 2,730 metres, and found new-to-science fish close to the deep ocean seafloor during their latest research voyage.

Southern Blue Whiting Fishery

NIWA fisheries scientist Dr Stuart Hanchet describes the history and management of the southern blue whiting fishery, centred around New Zealand's subantarctic islands.

The ecosystem impacts are thought to be low, with very little bycatch of other species, and almost no direct impact on the seabed. Data from surveys and commercial catches suggest the fishery is being managed at a sustainable level, with catch limits adjusted according to levels of recruitment of young fish into the stock each year.  

Instream structures such as hydroelectric dams may act as barriers to fish migration, and have the ability to alter the ecological connectivity of freshwater environments.

The giant kokopu (Galaxias argenteus) is one of five native galaxiid fish species which, as juveniles, make up the whitebait catch in New Zealand. Many people don't realise that this national delicacy can grow to such significant proportions, with adult giant kokopu of over 450 mm reported.

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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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