Deepwater fisheries

We manage New Zealand's deepwater fisheries under a national deepwater fisheries plan. Learn how we make sure our deepwater fisheries are fished sustainably.

About deepwater fisheries

Deepwater and middle-depth fisheries are located between 12 nautical miles and 200 nautical miles offshore – out to the limit of New Zealand's exclusive economic zone. Commercially fished species include hoki, hake, ling, southern blue whiting, jack mackerel, oreo, and orange roughy.

Over 200,000 tonnes of fish are caught from deepwater fisheries each year. The fisheries were worth an estimated $660 million in export earnings in 2016.  

Co-management of deepwater fisheries

We manage New Zealand’s deepwater fisheries with the commercial fishing industry under a memorandum of understanding (MOU). This allows us to manage deepwater fisheries using the combined knowledge, experience, skills, and perspectives of Fisheries New Zealand and industry.

Our strategy

Our Deepwater strategy for managing and promoting New Zealand's deepwater fisheries has 3 main themes.

  • Sustainable and responsible use: New Zealand’s deepwater fisheries are used in a manner that is economically and ecologically sustainable and meet New Zealand’s expectations for a socially and culturally responsible industry.
  • Market reputation: Global markets demand New Zealand seafood because they are confident it comes from sustainable and well managed fisheries.
  • Optimal decision making: Decision making is evidenced-based, transparent, not politically driven, and uses information that is collected in an efficient and cost effective manner.

Download the Deepwater strategy [PDF, 173 KB]

Plan to manage deepwater fisheries

We manage deepwater fisheries under the National fisheries plan for deepwater and middle-depth fisheries (National deepwater plan) developed in collaboration with the fishing industry and environmental non-government organisations. 

The plan has 3 parts:

  • Part 1: Strategic direction for deepwater fisheries management
  • Part 2: Annual operational plan – outlines actions to deliver during the current financial year
  • Part 3: Annual review report – assesses how we performed over the past financial year.

Strategic direction

Part 1 is divided into parts 1A and 1B.

Part 1A provides the overall strategic direction for deepwater fisheries.

Part 1B has chapters for key (tier 1) species and associated (tier 2) bycatch.

Annual operational plan and review report

The annual operational plan and review report are updated each financial year.

Operational plan

Review report

Review of the National deepwater plan

The National deepwater plan is being reviewed in 2017.

Deepwater species ranked into 3 tiers

Deepwater fisheries (including mid-water fisheries) are ranked into 3 tiers depending on their commercial importance:

  • Tier 1 – are high volume, high value quota management system (QMS) stocks that commercial fishers usually target.
  • Tier 2 – are QMS stocks that are smaller or less valuable bycatch fisheries, or are only targeted at certain times of the year.
  • Tier 3 – are bycatch species that aren't managed through the QMS.

Sustainable management

Deepwater fisheries are managed sustainably under the QMS and other management controls. All QMS fish stocks have catch limits set at levels that keep populations healthy in the long-term.

Find out more

Sustainable fisheries certification

Important deepwater fisheries are certified by the internationally recognised Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) as meeting high sustainablility and environmental standards.

New Zealand certified fisheries include hoki, hake, ling, southern blue whiting, albacore tuna troll, and orange roughy. The hoki, hake, ling, and southern blue whiting are currently under re-assessment by the MSC to extend their certification.

Certification gives New Zealanders:

  • assurance that these fisheries are being managed sustainably
  • access to important international markets for certain species – others can trust our fishing practices.

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) website  

Find out more

Who to contact

If you have questions about deepwater or middle-depth fisheries, email 

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