It makes sense to consume seafood from an island with a long coastline and enough distance from the major pollution hubs of the world to make it trustworthy.

New Zealand's clear waters produce an abundance of fish and shellfish, which are exported to over 70 different countries.

New Zealanders have always had a strong affinity with the sea. From the days of early Maori, the ocean has played a big part in the commercial, cultural and recreational lives of our people. New Zealand controls the world's fourth largest coastal fishing zone and produces approximately one percent of the world's total fish catch, and two percent of global sales.

In 2011, New Zealand became one of only two countries to achieve a top ranking in a review of international fisheries management systems, and in a second study was ranked first among 53 major fishing nations for managing marine resources. 

Seafood is among New Zealand's top 10 largest exports, and in the year to June 2015 New Zealand exported 271,000 tonnes of seafood worth NZ$1.47 billion. Products are exported all over the world, and major markets include China, Australia, the United States, Japan and Hong Kong. 

The New Zealand seafood industry's international reputation for excellence is based on the quality of its products, its high food safety standards and a world-leading fisheries management programme. And the taste is amazing. Whether it be juicy shellfish or delicous king salmon, New Zealand seafood is in a flavour class of its own.

Sustainability in focus

New Zealand's sustainable fisheries management regime combines a quota system, pursuit of innovative fishing, environmental mitigation techniques and a commitment from fishermen to continually find new ways to preserve and replenish the ocean habitats. The rigorous mechanisms and controls in place in New Zealand waters ensure sustainable harvests and continuous renewal of the ocean habitats.

The New Zealand fisheries Quota Management System (QMS) was introduced in 1986, with the aim of conserving major fisheries stocks and making the fishing industry more efficient. There are now over 95 species or species groups managed under the QMS. This management system covers most major fisheries within New Zealand's exclusive economic zone, and will eventually cover all commercially harvested species. Quotas are reviewed annually, following thorough analysis by scientists, industry and other stakeholders to assess population size of all major commercial and recreational fish species in their major fishing grounds.

The seafood industry in New Zealand invests up to NZ$20 million each year in research to better understand marine ecosystems, fish species, fish stocks and the impacts of fishing and aquaculture operations in the marine environment. New Zealand hoki was the world's first large white fish stock to qualify for the Marine Stewardship Council Certification - independent endorsement that it is a sustainable managed fishery.

Industry structure

The New Zealand seafood industry works under a structure comprising Rights Owners, Commercial Stakeholder Organisations (CSOs), and the company established to work on behalf of the industry - the New Zealand Seafood Industry Council.

The seafood industry is spread throughout New Zealand. Major seafood hubs are: Nelson, Auckland, Canterbury, Timaru, Southland, Tauranga, Napier and New Plymouth. Marlborough / Nelson and the Coromandel are the main aquaculture areas.

Fisheries-focused stakeholder groups, the wider industry and Maori proactively work to take more responsibility for fisheries management, to ensure an economic, cultural and environmentally sustainable resource.


Innovation is a pillar of the New Zealand seafood industry, from the development of new harvesting and distribution methods that maximise quality, to the creation of new, added-value products. More than 70 percent of New Zealand's seafood exports are considered added-value.

Companies are customising products to meet client needs and consumer trends, including the preference for healthy, fresh, and delicious products. Researchers are also exploring opportunities to develop new, higher value products from marine extracts, including food additives, dietary supplements, nutraceuticals, and pharmaceuticals.

The National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) is carrying out research to understand how marine ecosystems affect commercially exploited fish, and how commercial fisheries affect the marine food-web. NIWA has successfully produced commercial quantities of juvenile kingfish and similar success with hapuku is not far off. Research also includes selective breeding to ensure stock quality continues to improve. 


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