New Zealand hoki are managed by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) in New Zealand. Primarily caught using midwater and bottom trawl gears, New Zealand hoki are considered to be the most abundant commercial finfish species in New Zealand and the country's largest fishery since the 1980s. There are two stocks of hoki in New Zealand, an eastern that consists of the East Coast of the South Island, Memoo Bank, Chatham Rise, Cook Strait, and the East Coast of the North Island and a western that encompasses the West Coast of the North and South Islands and areas south of New Zealand in the sub-Antarctic such as the Puysegur, Snares, and Southern Plateau. Of these two stocks, there are four main hoki fisheries: West Coast of the South Island, Cook Strait, Chatham Rise, and the sub-Antarctic. Between 1995 and 2000, the western stock declined due to low recruitment. Since then, a stock-rebuilding plan has been introduced and the western stock has been rebuilt. Both stocks are now considered to be at target levels with recent stock assessments projecting biomass likely increasing slightly over the next five years.
The primary management tool in New Zealand’s fisheries management is the Quota Management System (QMS), which covers over a hundred commercially important species accounting for more than 600 different stocks. First introduced in 1986, the QMS is designed to ensure the long-term sustainable use of fishery resources by limiting the amount of fish that can be harvested. Under the QMS, each of the 600 plus stocks is assigned its own annual total allowable catch limit, or annual fishing quota, by the MPI. Each year, the MPI sets a single total allowable catch limit for New Zealand hoki under which the eastern and western stocks each get separate quotas. While both the eastern and western stocks are assigned separate quotas, both stocks are assessed simultaneously as individuals from both stocks can be caught in the same regions (such as Chatham rise) and it assists in overall fishery research. Access to the hoki fishery is determined by ownership of transferrable fishery quotas which can be bought or sold amongst users and allows owners to fish up to a certain proportion of the total allowable catch for the eastern and western stocks. Under the QMS, the New Zealand government has also purchased a portion of the quota and has transferred it to the Te Ohu Kaimoana (Treaty of Waitangi Fisheries Commission) in recognition of Maori rights to the commercial hoki fishery.
Among other management measures are:
- General area closures – 30 percent of New Zealand’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) is closed to all bottom trawling;
- Fishery-specific area closures – four hoki management areas (HMAs) have been identified as important nursery grounds and are closed to hoki fishing as well as additional time and area closures;
- Fishery vessel monitoring and observer coverage (when selected); and,
- Bycatch reduction measures – mandatory crew training on techniques to reduce seabird bycatch, measures to avoid harming seabirds such as having bird-scaring devices, minimum mesh sizes to reduce the catch of juvenile hoki, and sea lion exclusion devices (SLEDs) use.
Hoki, often called blue grenadier in Australia, are managed by the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) as part of Australia’s Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery (SESSF). The SESSF is a multigear/multispecies fishery, is the largest Commonwealth-managed fishery in terms of volume, and covers almost half the Australian Fishing Zone. Under the SESSF, the AFMA assigns annual fishing quotas, also called total allowable catch limits, for hoki, along with 33 other species/species groups. These quota species account for 80 percent of the total commercial catch in the SESSF. Quotas have been in place for hoki since the 1990s with the current total allowable catch for the 2017/2018 fishing season being set at 8765 tonnes. In the SESSF, fishers have Statutory Fishing Rights (SFRs) allowing them to fish a particular quota of the overall the total allowable catch. SFRs are transferable as well as can be leased to other users. Among other management measures for hoki include:
- Restrictions on the number of vessels allowed in the fishery;
- Gear restrictions;
- Reporting requirements (catch records);
- Bycatch reduction measures – all trawling vessels must have a seabird management plan with freezer trawl vessels required to use seal exclusion devices to protect marine mammals. Additionally, bottom trawls must use a minimum mesh size to reduce the catch of juvenile fish; and,
- Area closures to protect vulnerable species, spawning sites, and sensitive habitat.