Group warns shoppers off NZ hoki

Several of New Zealand's major export fish species have been listed as unsustainably managed by the Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS).

Its warnings appear on its website and on mobile phone apps to use while shopping. They include red lights or do-not-shop for hoki, squid and shark from New Zealand.

World Fishing News says AMCS has five of the 11 most popular species of fish in Australia listed as "unsustainably managed".

Three of the top five most popular fish are marked red in the AMCS traffic-light system, meaning the organisation strongly recommends avoiding them.

"Overall, there have been significant improvements in farming and the industry is improving transparency due to the fact more people care about where their seafood comes from," Tooni Mahto, AMCS's marine campaigns officer, said.

"But there is still a lot of work to do. It still takes 2.5 kilograms of wild-caught fish, to be used as fish food, to create 1kg of farmed fish."

Mahto said Australians seemed to love shark "but globally, 25 per cent of shark and ray species are threatened by extinction so our consumption of shark meat is propping up this decline".

On hoki - which is known as blue grenadier in Australia - AMCS said it should not be eaten. Although the New Zealand fishery was healthy "there are significant concerns over threatened species bycatch and habitat damage in this fishery".

Fast-food companies like McDonald's use hoki in their fish burgers.

AMCS says the hoki fishery catches endangered seabird species, including white-capped, Buller's and Salvin's albatrosses.

Bycatch of Salvin's albatross and sooty shearwaters increased in this fishery in 2010-11.

"Risk assessments have identified that Salvin's albatross is at risk of further population decline as a result of fishing activities," AMCS said. The hoki fishery also captured deep-water sharks or dogfish. Only limited information was available on their sustainability.

AMCS said hoki was trawled both on and above the seafloor.

"Seabed mapping of the trawled area is limited, but sensitive seafloor-dwelling species [corals and sea fans] have been identified in both mapped areas and in trawl nets, which means that fishing activity is directly threatening these long-lived and sensitive species."

AMCS also warned against buying Auckland and Campbell islands arrow squid, known in Australia as Gould's Squid.

The catch was not at risk from overfishing, it said.

"The areas in which the fisheries operate overlaps with the habitat and feeding grounds of the endemic New Zealand sea lion, which is classed as ‘nationally critical' under the New Zealand Threat Classification System."

AMCS is opposed to eating both Australian and New Zealand orange roughy, saying it is overfished in both areas.

It also warned people off oreodory, another deep-water fish often caught by the orange roughy fishery. Much of the oreodory in Australia is imported from New Zealand.

Although oreodory was not defined as overfished, there were concerns at the declines in numbers caught, the society said.

AMCS expressed concern over the state of shark imports, including dusky and bronze whaler, gummy, blacktip, mako, school, sandbar and gulper sharks.

New Zealand shark is targeted in the warnings because New Zealand continues to allow live shark finning. AMCS said this would be banned in New Zealand this year.