Profile updated on 10 March 2016





Micromesistius australis


Southern blue whiting, New Zealand southern blue whiting

Besides being found around the southern tip of South America, Southern blue whiting Micromesistius australis is found on the southern shelf of New Zealand, but is ocasionally considered to be a distinct subspecies – Micromesistius australis pallidus as opposed to Micromesistius australis australis.

Hanchet (1999) found significant differences in growth rates as well as on morphometric characteristics considering that the 4 stocks, which present distinct spawning grounds, should be assessed and managed separately: Auckland Islands (SBW 6A), Bounty Platform (SBW 6B), Campbell Island Rise (SBW 6I) and Pukaki Rise (SBW 6R). These 4 biological stocks are used by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) for assessment and management purposes (MPI, 2015).


No related analysis


Management Quality:

Management Strategy:

≥ 8

Managers Compliance:


Fishers Compliance:


Stock Health:



Future Health:



No related FIPs


No related MSC fisheries


Within FishSource, the term "fishery" is used to indicate each unique combination of a flag country with a fishing gear, operating within a particular management unit, upon a resource. That resource may have a known biological stock structure and/or may be assessed at another level for practical or jurisdictional reasons. A fishery is the finest scale of resolution captured in FishSource profiles, as it is generally the scale at which sustainability can most fairly and practically be evaluated.

Auckland islands NZ Auckland Islands (SBW 6A) New Zealand Midwater trawls





Last updated on 19 May 2010

For the purposes of stock assessment it is assumed that there are four stocks of southern blue whiting with fidelity within stocks: the Bounty Platform stock, the Pukaki Rise stock, the Auckland Islands stock, and the Campbell Island stock. No assessment has been made of the Auckland Islands Shelf stock.


Last updated on 19 May 2010

No assessment has been conducted for the Auckland Islands stock.

Reference Points

Last updated on 19 May 2010

There are no reference points established for this stock.


Last updated on 19 May 2010

No estimates of current biomass or yield are available; the only information available on stock size is from an acoustic survey in 1995 when the adult biomass was estimated as 7,800 tonnes. It is unknown if recent catches are sustainable or if they will allow the stock to move towards a size that will support the MSY (Ministry of Fisheries, 2009b).


Last updated on 19 May 2010

There is not enough information through time to understand trajectories for this stock.



Last updated on 19 May 2010

Recovery Plans

Last updated on 19 May 2010

Not applicable.

NZ Auckland Islands (SBW 6A)

No management plan is developed for the fishery. The New Zealand’s Ministry of Fisheries sets catch limits for each of the four stocks and a nominal catch of 8 t for the remainder of the EEZ. TACCs are set applying a constant mortality rate of 20% to the estimated Spawning Stock Biomass (SSB). The interim harvest strategy in place aims to keep the stock at or above B40% and foresees the implementation of a time-constrained rebuilding plan if the stock falls below the soft limit. The TAC revision is based on an estimate of the current annual yield (CAY) (MoF, 2011d). The TAC for 2010-2011 was set at 1,640 tonnes for the Auckland Islands stock. Other management measures include a minimum mesh size in trawls, bottom trawl closures to protect sensitive seabed areas, and a ban on use of cables for net sounders (which can entangle some seabirds).


Last updated on 19 May 2010

At Auckland Islands the catches are far from the TACC in place in each year. Such “under-catch” can be a sign of poor stock condition, but scientists suggest a different interpretation for this fishery. It is thought to reflect low economic value and difficulty of timing and locating fish aggregations, according to stock assessment authors. The lower Auckland Islands TACCs mean that fishers often find that time taken to locate aggregations is not justified (Ministry of Fisheries, 2009b).

IUU fishing is not thought to be a serious issue in the fishery although two convictions of vessel operators for area misreporting and dumping of fish have been reported in recent years (Ministry of Fisheries, 2009b)..


ETP Species

Last updated on 19 May 2010

The report from Ministry of Forestry (2006) noted that Southern Blue Whiting (SBW) fisheries are known to make incidental captures of fur seals and New Zealand sea lions yet the available estimates of overall numbers are relatively low and do not give rise to concerns specific to the SBW fishery. Mitigation measures have reduced the number of seabird interactions with offshore trawls – bird-scaring devices are mandatory for trawlers and an industry-promoted voluntary Vessel Management Plan specifies further measures (Ministry of Fisheries, undated).

Other Species

Last updated on 19 May 2010

The available information suggests that SBW target fishing operations take relatively little bycatch of other finfish species (about 1% of total green weight catch based on observed and reported catch).


Last updated on 19 May 2010

Southern blue whiting is taken predominantly by mid-water trawl methods, although the gear might often come into contact with the seabed as catches can be made near the bottom. There is currently little information on the benthic effects of SBW trawling. A desktop study is underway to explore the data that is available from trawl catch and effort reporting.

Marine Reserves

Last updated on 19 May 2010

In November 2007 New Zealand established 17 areas closed to bottom trawling, comprising more than 1.1 million square kilometres of seabed, about 30% of New Zealand’s 200-mile fisheries zone. These protected areas include 88% of active hydrothermal vents and 52% of seamounts in the nation’s waters (Ministry of Fisheries, 2009c).

A network of Marine Protected Areas is being established, aimed at representing all of New Zealand’s major marine habitats and ecosystems and associated biodiversity. Protection measures may include restrictions or prohibitions on fishing activities (Ministry of Fisheries, 2009d).

FishSource Scores


As calculated for 2011 data.

The score is ≥ 8.

There is an interim harvest strategy in place which aims to keep the stock at or above B40% and foresees the implementation of a time-constrained rebuilding plan if the stock falls below the soft limit (MoF, 2011d).

As calculated for 2010 data.

The score is 10.0.

This measures the Catch as a percentage of the Set TAC.

The Catch is 0.129 ('000 t). The Set TAC is 1.64 ('000 t) .

The underlying Catch/Set TAC for this index is 7.87%.


No data available for biomass
No data available for biomass
To see data for catch and tac, please view this site on a desktop.
No data available for fishing mortality
No data available for fishing mortality
No data available for recruitment
No data available for recruitment
To see data for management quality, please view this site on a desktop.
No data available for stock status
No data available for stock status


1) A general absence of available data – estimates of biomass and fishing mortality, fishing mortality reference points and of biomass reference points – prevents scores 1, 4 and 5 to be computed. 2). As a single government agency is responsible for both stock assessment and management, management compliance is not an issue and no advised TAC is available (score 2 cannot be computed). 3) Each fishing year starts April and ends March the following year; accordingly, the 2008 estimates refer to the April 2008-March 2009 fishing year.

Download Source Data

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Fishery Improvement Projects (FIPs)

No related FIPs


Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)

No related MSC certifications


  1. Hanchet, S. 1999. Stock structure of southern blue whiting (Micromesistius australis) in New Zealand waters, New Zealand Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research, 1999, Vol. 33: 599-609
  2. Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), 2015. Fisheries Assessment Plenary May 2015: Stock Assessments and Stock Status, Southern blue whiting (SBW), 1257-1287 pp.
  3. Ministry of Fisheries, 2009a. Fishery: Southern Blue Whiting.
  4. Ministry of Fisheries, 2009b. Report from the Fisheries Assessment Plenary, May 2009: stock assessment and yield estimates. Ministry of Fisheries, Wellington, New Zealand.
  5. Ministry of Fisheries, 2009c. Benthic Protected Areas.
  6. Ministry of Fisheries, 2009d. Marine Protected Areas.
  7. Ministry of Fisheries, 2011. Southern Blue Whiting assessment report, 2011. p. 1009-1036.
  8. Ministry of Fisheries , undated. Environmental Issue: Deepwater trawl (vessels over 28 metres) - Seabird interactions


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