Key Facts

         Seafood New Zealand

  • Approximately 450,000 tonnes of seafood (excluding aquaculture) is harvested from New Zealand's waters each year.
  • The seafood industry employs over 13,000 full time workers.
  • 2,500 people work in commercial fishing and aquaculture operations at sea. 
  • The New Zealand seafood industry had a total export earning (FOB) of $2.0 billion in seafood exports in 2020.
  • 267,901 tonnes of seafood were exported in 2018.


         New Zealand fisheries

  • New Zealand's marine fisheries waters (Exclusive Economic Zone and territorial sea) measures 4.4m km2, and is the world's fourth largest EEZ, making it an ocean territory 'superpower'.
  • New Zealand's 15,134 km long coastline is the ninth longest in the world.
  • New Zealand ranks 1st out of 176 countries for being the least corrupt public sector. 
  • In 2009, New Zealand received the highest possible rating for ecologically sustainable management of its fisheries; was ranked first amongst 53 fishing nations for managing marine resources in 2010; placed first out of 41 countries for the quality of its fisheries monitoring in 2011; and ranked fifth out of 28 nations for healthy fish stocks in 2016. 
  • The fishing industry pays over $27 million a year in government levies for fisheries conservation, research and enforcement services. 
  • The New Zealand fishing industry covers 60 percent of fisheries research costs.
  • New Zealand is ranked among the best performing fisheries nations in the world.
  • 95 percent of New Zealand's commercially landed catch is from sustainable stocks, according to the Ministry for Primary Industries' latest Fish Stock Status report. 
  • Sustainability of New Zealand fish stocks is ensured through a world leading Quota Management System (QMS) that controls harvest levels for each fish species and area.
  • 169 species are commercially fished in New Zealand. 98 of those species are managed under the QMS in 642 stock areas.
  • Maori are guaranteed 20 percent of all quota for any New Zealand fish stock introduced to the QMS.
  • Each year, the Ministry for Primary Industries reviews the Total Allowable Commercial Catch (TACC) for fish stocks and sets limits so that enough fish remain for breeding.


Careers and Training

17,000 New Zealanders are employed directly and indirectly in the seafood industry in a coastal fishing zone that spans 2.2 million square kilometres.

Jobs within the sector are diverse and covering a wide range of skills from land-based scientific and technical roles to hands on jobs on vessels or processing and retail onshore.

Primary ITO offer qualifications and short courses to the seafood sector in the following areas:

  • Seafood processing
  • Vessel operations
  • Wholesale and retail

You can find out more about training by visiting the Primary ITO website.

Did you know?

  • New Zealand's hoki fisheries were the first major fisheries in the world to be certified sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC). The MSC is the gold-star in certification labels, recognising sustainable seafood practices.
  • New Zealand's southern blue whiting fisheries were the first major whitefish fisheries in the world to be certified sustainable by the MSC.
  • Seven different fisheries have been MSC certified; hoki, hake, ling, southern blue whiting, orange roughy, skipjack and albacore tuna.
  • More than 90 percent of New Zealand's seabed has never been touched by trawlers.
  • 142 fish stocks are managed within acceptable limits.
  • Over 15,000 marine species have been identified in New Zealand's marine environment. 
  • New Zealand's benthic protection area (BPA) network and seamount closures cover an area 4.6 times larger than the country's landmass. It is one of the largest marine conservation areas in the world.
  • 96 percent of New Zealand's territory is underwater. 
  • Approximately 30.5 percent of New Zealand's total marine environment is protected.