|Deepsea perch, sea perch, slimehead (New Zealand), red roughy (Australia), hoplostete orange, granatbarsch (Germany), pesce arancio (Italy), beryx de nouvelle-zelande (France), rosy soldierfish (Canada)|
Orange roughy stocks were assessed, and all ranked as red, worst choice seafood and should be avoided. A better alternative is pot-caught blue cod.
Orange roughy is a very slow growing and long-lived (120-130 years) deepwater fish, making it highly vulnerable to fishing pressure and overfishing. It does not breed until 23-31 years old and does so once a year in large spawning aggregations, often around deepwater seamounts, pinnacles and canyons around New Zealand. There are nine distinct orange roughy fisheries within the New Zealand EEZ, each managed independently. The East and South Chatham Rise fishery is the largest and oldest orange roughy fishery in the world. New Zealand’s orange roughy have suffered from years of over-fishing on the spawning grounds, which has decimated populations. Catch limits were reduced several times during the 1990s and 2000s.
Orange roughy is caught by bottom trawl fishing gear. There are concerns over roughy recruitment and there is a mismatch between model projections and catch effort information. Most populations were reduced to below 20% of their original unfished size with one (Challenger) reduced to just 3%. As well as stock concerns, orange roughy is caught by bottom trawling, which destroys sea floor species assemblages and fragile seamount habitats. It effectively bulldozes the sea floor, demolishing black corals, lace corals, coral trees, colourful sponge fields and long-lived bryozoans – some more than 500 years old. Deepwater sharks and other non-target fish species are also caught, which alters marine food web dynamics. Orange roughy are an important part of the deepwater biomass and a prey species for sperm whales and giant squid, therefore orange roughy depletion has a direct impact on these deepwater species. These deepwater orange roughy fisheries catch about 79 seabirds annually including Salvin’s, Chatham Islands and white-capped albatross.
Not currently certified under any scheme. The Chatham Rise and Challenger stocks are being applied for MSC certification, but as of the date of Best Fish Guide publication, no certification decision had been made.
Orange roughy exports were worth $53.4 million in 2015. Previously this was $200 million. About 50% is exported to China, and a third to USA. Other major markets are Australia and Japan.
Regional (stock) differences were considered in this assessment. The Chatham Rise and Challenger stocks were assessed separately from all other areas. Despite the Chatham Rise and Challenger stocks scoring slightly higher, there were no significant differences and all orange roughy caught in New Zealand waters is rated red, worst choice seafood.
|Score:||Challenger & Chatham Rise – D, all other stocks – E|
|Population size:||Most stocks were below 20% of their unfished population size (B0). The Challenger population was reduced to 3% B0. There is some indication that Challenger and Chatham Rise stocks have undergone some rebuilding, while other areas (e.g. East Coast of North Island) have declined and others are unknown.|
|Annual catch limit:||Was set at 8726 tonnes in 2010-11, with increases in some areas and reductions in others, and area ORH 7B closed.|
|Recorded catch:||Reported landings of 8216.7 tonnes in 2014-15, continuing decline from a peak of 54,000 tonnes in 1988-89.|
|Stock trends:||Over-fished, with recovery appearing to be occurring in some stocks (Challenger and Chatham Rise) and declines in others (East Coast North Island).|
|MSY Status:||Most stocks were depleted to well below BMSY and targets. Uncertain status for both Southern ORH 3B and Northern ORH 1 quota areas. Rebuilding of stocks indicated in models is not supported by catch rate information (e.g. ORH3B and ORH7B).|
|The Ministry of Primary Industries assessment plenary report includes:||
Overall: “yield estimates are unrealistic in that they are derived using deterministic recruitment and maintaining an exact level of fishing intensity. More realistic estimates of long-term yield, such as those derived from a management strategy evaluation, would likely be lower.”
For ORH 1: “An assessment of the Mercury-Colville box in 2001 indicated that biomass had been reduced to 10-15% B0.” “In other areas of ORH 1 the status of the constituent stocks is unknown. … without any indication of current abundance, there is no way to determine if this level of fishing is in fact sustainable or if current feature limits will avoid overexploitation of localised areas.”
ORH2A, 2B and 3A: East Cape – “B2003 was 24%B0, which was Unlikely to be at or above the target (30%Bo).” “The most recent assessment (2003) is now 11 years out-of-date. In recent years, the ability of stock assessment models that assume deterministic recruitment for orange roughy stocks to reflect current or projected stock status has been called into question.” “At the current catch limit, the stock is projected to increase slowly over the next 5 years but still be below the soft limit in 2019. The minimum rebuild period to reach 30%B0 with 70% probability is estimated to be 21 years with no catch.”
East Coast North Island – “B2014 was estimated to be 14%B0 Very Unlikely to be at or above the lower end of the management target range (30-40% Bo).”
For ORH 3B: NW– “B2014 was estimated at 37% B0. Likely to be at or above the lower end of the management target range (30-40% Bo). Biomass reached its lowest point in 2004 and has increased consistently since then.” “Fishing intensity decreased sharply from 2010 to 2011 and has remained well below the overfishing threshold since then.” But lower stock status when M was estimated.
NE and South Chatham Rise – “B2014 was estimated to be 30%B0 About as Likely as Not to be at or above the lower end of the management target range.” “The spawning biomass is estimated to have been slowly increasing over the last four years.” But much lower stock status when M was estimated: “current stock was estimated (22%Bo) well below the biomass target range.”
Puysegur – “the point estimate of biomass from this assessment  is probably below BMSY, [7%] but it is uncertain”.
Other areas – “substantial declines in commercial catches and nominal catch rates for Bounty, Priceless, Pukaki and other areas in the sub-Antarctic since about 2007-08” “No stock assessment could be carried out.”
Challenger (ORH 7A): “B2014 was estimated to be 42% B0 Very Likely to be at or above the lower end of the management target range and About as Likely as Not to be at or above the upper end of the management target range”. “The spawning biomass is estimated to have been steadily increasing since just before the fishery closure in 2000–2001.” “Biomass is expected to increase at [a 500 tonne] TACC or decrease slightly over the next 5 years at annual catches of up to 2100 tonne.” But lower stock status when M was estimated.
West Coast (ORH 7B): “B2004 was estimated to be 17% B0, Very Unlikely to be at or above the target.” (MPI, 2016, p688-690, 699, 720-723, 750-755, 767-769 and 775-776).
|Score:||All areas – E|
|Distribution:||The main spawning grounds around New Zealand are the Challenger Plateau, Cook Canyon, Puysegur Bank, North Chatham Rise, Ritchie Bank and East Cape at depths of between 700 metres and at least 1500 metres. Most are caught on the Chatham Rise where the underwater terrain is rugged and consists of hill, pinnacle and canyon seascapes.|
|Maximum age (years):||120-130|
|Age at sexual maturity:||23-29 years|
|Growth rate:||Very slow|
|Reproductive output:||Low. Females carry 40,000 to 60,000 eggs per kilogram of body weight, which is less than 10% of the average for other fish species.|
|Age exploited:||From about 20-23 years old|
|Ability to recover:||Low to very low|
|Score:||All areas – E|
|Fishing method(s):||Bottom trawling between 750 and 1200m with orange roughy catch accounting for 84% of tows. The combined deepwater fishery of orange roughy, oreos and cardinal fish represent about 14% of all deepwater tows.|
|Habitat damage:||Bottom trawling destroys sea floor species assemblages and fragile seamount habitats. It decimates black coral, lace corals, colourful sponge fields, long-lived bryozoans and many other invertebrate species. Bottom trawl impacts include habitat modification, loss of biodiversity, loss of benthic productivity, and modification of important breeding and juvenile fish habitat. The trawl footprint area and contact areas vary, but the Snares Shelf area, the Auckland Islands shelf, West Coast South Island, and northwest and southwest Chatham Rise were identified as amongst the highest frequency trawled areas in the New Zealand zone.|
|Habitat of particular significance:||Hasn’t been defined in New Zealand.|
|Bycatch:||Main bycatch species are smooth oreo, black oreo, rattails, deepwater dogfish and hoki, with lesser bycatches of Johnson’s cod and ribaldo. Low productivity bycatch species include deepwater sharks and corals.|
|Ecological effects:||In addition to the ecological effects of habitat damage, orange roughy is the dominant demersal species between 750-1100m on the Challenger Plateau, East Coast North Island and North and East Chatham Rise. It is a prey species of sperm whale and giant squid, so the commercial catch can reduce the amount of available food for species. Fishing for orange roughy and oreos also removes a large proportion of deep sea benthic biomass, significantly altering these unique communities.|
|Score:||All areas – D|
|Bycatch:||An estimated 79 seabirds are caught annually in deepwater (orange roughy, oreos and black cardinalfish) fisheries, including Salvin’s, Chatham Islands and white-capped albatross. This includes cryptic mortality of birds injured or killed when hitting trawl warps. Low numbers of fur seals captures (about 2 peryear) were observed in the deepwater fishery. About 10% of tows include corals in bycatch and orange roughy fisheries reported the largest coral captures. Protected coral species were reported caught in orange roughy tows in all orange roughy quota areas. The corals caught include gorgonian, hydrocorals, black corals (Antipatharia) and stony corals (Scleractinia) – which includes reef-like, tree-like, small corals and whip-like corals. In the 2014-15 fishing year, core deepwater vessels’ observers reported capture of over 4.3 tonnes of corals and over 12.6 tonnes of sponges. Some of these corals have been aged at over 500 years old.|
|Score:||All areas – D|
|Management component:||Single species but there are uncertainties about stock structure and multiple stocks are likely to occur within quota areas e.g. Chatham Rise and the sub-Antarctic area, and East Coast North Island, and the northern fishery.|
|Score:||Chatham and Challenger stocks – B, all other stocks – C|
|Quota Management Species:||Yes, since 1986|
|Management plan:||Deepwater management plan for 2010-15 is out of date, and has yet to be reviewed and replaced. Orange roughy is a target species in the current plan. There is no operational plan and the old Deepwater plan lacks key environmental standards. The National Plans of Action on Seabirds and Sharks are more relevant to bycatch issues but they are slow to be implemented.|
|Stock assessment:||Quantitative stock assessments have been carried out for most areas apart from most of ORH 1 and Southern ORH 3B. Latest assessments at ORH 1 (Mercury-Colville) 2001, East Cape 2003, East Coast North Island 2011, NW Chatham Rise 2014, East and South Chatham Rise 2014, Puysegur 1998, Challenger 2014, West Coast South Island 2007.|
|Research:||Research has focused on the Chatham Rise and Challenger roughy areas.|
|Observer coverage:||Is 22.5% in the combined deepwater fishery.|