Fisheries New Zealand has recently published its annual Status of New Zealand's Fisheries Report, which it says shows that most New Zealand fish stocks are sustainable, however those needing to be actively rebuilt include lobsters, paua, pipi and freshwater eels.

Manager of Fisheries Science Dr Richard Ford says Fisheries New Zealand is committed to ensuring the long term sustainability of New Zealand's fisheries.

"It was good to see that 142 of the 169 assessed fish stocks have no sustainability issues," Dr Ford says.

"However there are 27 fish stocks which have some sustainability concerns. In all cases where stocks need support, corrective management action has been, or is being, put in place to improve stock levels."

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Overfished stocks that are below the soft limit include: southern bluefin tuna and Pacific bluefin tuna, three stocks of black cardinalfish, five stocks of bluenose, three stocks or sub-stocks of tarakihi, two stocks or sub-stocks of orange roughy, two stocks or sub-stocks of snapper, two stocks or sub-stocks of scallops, two stocks or sub-stocks of oysters and one stock or sub-stock each of flatfish, John dory, rock lobster, pāua, pipi and freshwater eels.

Below this level, a fish stock is considered to be overfished or depleted and needs to be actively rebuilt, for example by reducing the total allowable catch.

"We spend about $22 million a year on scientific research to get the best available information about what is happening in our fisheries," Dr Ford says.

"All the scientific information we receive which goes into the stock assessments is independently peer reviewed by Fisheries Assessment Working groups to ensure the accuracy of information.

"If the science suggests that a stock is doing well, then we look at increasing catch limits. If the stock status assessment suggests that the catch needs to be reduced to ensure sustainability, then we propose reducing catch limits to re-build the stock," says Dr Ford.

Highlights from the review show that:

· The first ever successful assessment for Chatham Islands rock lobster was completed in 2018 and showed that the stock is above biomass limits, but below the management target.

· The Puysegur sub-stock of orange roughy was assessed in 2017 and found to have fully rebuilt since its closure in 1997.

To determine the status of each stock, a number of Fisheries Assessment Working Groups evaluate the results of scientific research vessel surveys, catch and effort reports, data from on-board Fisheries Observers and other relevant information.

New Zealand operates under the Quota Management System (QMS) to manage New Zealand's fisheries.

The status of the stocks is updated annually, and work on the 2019 update is already well under way.