|repe, reperepe, makorepe, (Maori), silver trumpeter, white fillets, elephant shark (Australia), zoginzame, zoginbuku (Japan)|
Elephant fish is a worst choice seafood. An alternative seafood choice is .
This small shark species, which is only found in New Zealand, has biological characteristics that make it relatively less prone to overfishing than most shark species. It is most common on the east coast of the South Island to depths of 200m, where it is caught mainly as bycatch off the Banks Peninsula in trawl fisheries and as a target species in set nets.
Elephant fish are caught by trawling and with set nets. The lack of a management plan, the unknown sustainability of some recent catch limits, and the failure to carry out a full stock assessment are concerns. Also of concern is the impact of trawling on the seabed and associated communities, plus non-target fish bycatch of set netting. Impacts of set netting on catching endangered Hector’s dolphins. While there is no operational plan for elephant fish, in 2013 a revised New Zealand National Plan of Action for the Conservation and Management of Sharks was developed. However, there are no specific conservation actions for elephant fish. Elephant fish had the fourth highest risk ranking of the all the sharks, rays and skates in the quota management system.
Not certified under any scheme.
Market in New Zealand and exports of about $453,000 in 2015 to Hong Kong (70%) Australia and Malaysia. Total shark, ray and skates exports in 2015 were valued at $31.33 million. New Zealand is amongst the top 20 global exporters of shark product.
Set-net and trawl-caught elephant fish were assessed. While set-net caught ranked slightly higher than trawl caught the results were not significant. Both ranked red, worst choice seafood and should be avoided.
|Score:||Both set net and trawl – D|
|Annual catch limit:||Limit set at 1,304 tonnes since 2012-13|
|Recorded catch:||Total landings of 1,340 tonnes in 2014-15|
|Stock trends:||Unknown but has likely increased since the 1980s for ELE 3 and 5|
|The Ministry of Primary Industries assessment plenary report includes:||
ELE1: “No estimates of current and reference biomass are available.”
For ELE3: “Overfishing is About As Likely as Not to be occurring. ” “The current TACC and current reported catches are about as likely as not to be causing overfishing.”
For ELE5: “Overfishing is Unlikely to be occurring.
For ELE 3 and 5: “Elephant fish have shown good recovery since apparently being at low biomass levels in the mid-1980s.”
For ELE 7: ”Biomass trends from this stock are unreliably estimated by the West Coast South Island survey.”
For ELE 5 and 7: The state of stock in relation to BMSY target is unknown. (MPI 2016, p278-286).
|Score:||Both set net and trawl – C|
|Distribution:||Occurs around the South Island but most common near Banks Peninsula at depths of 20-200m.|
|Maximum age (years):||9-15|
|Age at sexual maturity:||3-5|
|Ability to recover:||Low|
|Score:||Set net – D, trawl – E|
|Fishing method(s):||Elephant fish are caught by trawling and with set nets. The trawl catch includes a target fishery in each quota management area which varies between about 20% and 40% of the effort, and the rest is bycatch in red cod, flatfish, stargazer, and barracouta bottom trawl fisheries. The remainder is set net with about 15% of the catch taken in the multi-species set net shark fishery, targeting rig, elephant fish, spiny dogfish and school shark. Most elephant fish are caught as bycatch in one of the red cod trawl fisheries as well as other trawl fisheries. The proportion caught by set nets has declined in the last 15 years.|
Set nets: The impacts of set nets on bottom habitat are minimal compared to trawling but they can damage reefs or biogenic features if placed in sensitive areas.
|Habitat of particular significance:||hasn’t been defined in New Zealand.|
Set net: Elephant fish is caught with other sharks including rig, spiny dogfish and school shark plus a range of inshore rays and sharks.
Trawl: Elephant fish is one of a range of bycatch fish species caught in the mix trawl inshore fisheries including red cod trawl fishery off Canterbury coast
|Ecological effects:||The combined effects of destroying seafloor habitats, non-target fish bycatch can have considerable ecological implications.|
|Score:||Both set net and trawl – E|
|Bycatch:||Set nets: Captures of marine mammals and seabirds occur with set nets. For Hector’s dolphins 95% of captures occurs in set nets – the shark fisheries of rig, elephant fish and school shark had most incidents – while the rest was in trawl fisheries (e.g. the red cod trawl fishery off Canterbury coast, where elephant fish is a bycatch species). As the dolphin’s entire habitat is not closed to set nets, captures may still exist where fishing overlaps with dolphin areas outside these closures. There is also the risk of incidental capture of sea lions from Otago Peninsula south. Set nets for a range of species are estimated to catch 75 seabirds annually, including cryptic mortality. Penguins and shags are particularly vulnerable to set nets including yellow-eyed penguins and spotted shag.
Trawl: Inshore trawl fisheries have an estimated seabird bycatch of 4370 seabirds (this includes cryptic mortality). Species reported include white-capped albatross, Salvin’s albatross and white-chinned petrels. Fur seal captures have also been estimated in the inshore trawl fisheries at about 20 per year from areas outside the eastern coast of the North Island.
|Score:||Both set net and trawl – B|
|Management component:||Single species but the stock structure is uncertain, as spawning area has not been found in all assumed stocks.|
|Score:||Both set net and trawl – C|
|Quota Management Species:||Yes, since 1986.|
|Management plan:||There is no approved inshore plan.|
|Stock assessment:||No quantitative stock assessment for most QMAs but a preliminary full assessment was carried out in ELE 3 in 2016. Partial stock assessments were carried out in ELE 5 and ELE 7 using CPUE.|
|Research:||There has been recent research in ELE 3 (2016), ELE 5 (2015) and ELE 7 (2014).|
|Observer coverage:||About 1.5% in set net fisheries and 1.5% in inshore trawl fisheries over last 5 years, unlikely to be spatially or temporally representative of the fishing effort.|
Taken from the Ministry for Primary Industries’ Plenary report for fisheries management.
Report from the Fishery Assessment plenary, May 2016: stock assessments and yield estimates. Part 1: Introductory Section to Hoki, Science Group, Ministry for Primary Industries; Ministry for Primary Industries (2016) Aquatic Environment and Biodiversity Annual Review 2015. Compiled by the Fisheries Management Science Team, Ministry for Primary Industries. 682p. The Guidebook to New Zealand Commercial Fish Species, 2007 Revised Edition, The New Zealand Seafood Industry Council Ltd. Seafood NZ, 2016. New Zealand Seafood Exports to December 2015. 133p.