Research & Science

Research & Science

Research and Science

New Zealand Sport Fishing Council

Research and science contribute to the management of New Zealand's fish stocks. However, for many of our fisheries there is a dearth of  information that can be reliably used to guide the science process. To ensure a balanced management approach the New Zealand Sport Fishing Council works with a number of agencies and organisations to achieve our goal of "more fish in the water".

Having abundant fisheries thriving in a healthy marine environment would provide for all New Zealander's social, environmental, economic and cultural well-being.

Over time the NZSFC will add to this collection of research and science papers, reports and data sheets. If you have any information that could contribute to this page please feel free to contact us by email. Meantime, click on the right hand image to read the reports. 


Research - Methods to estimate recreational harvest.  March 2018 

New Zealand's methods of estimating recreational marine harvest are internationally recognised as being robust and reliable. This report highlights the high quality work being undertaken in New Zealand to measure recreational marine harvest. It will be distributed worldwide as a quotable reference for other research articles. It offers clear proof that fisheries managers do know the extent of recreational harvest, while acknowledging the uncertainty of harvest estimates in some niche, small-scale fisheries. 

The next National Panel Survey of recreational marine harvest is underway now and those results are expected in 2019/20. 

Report - KIngfish Monitoring report.  June 2016 

The Bay of Islands International Yellowtail Tournament has provided a valuable opportunity to measure a large number of fish at the same time every year. This helps monitor what is happening with the kingfish population in the years between the 5-yearly ageing projects. 

This work is funded by fishers, not the government. This project has the support of the Bay of Islands Swordfish Club, New Zealand Sport Fishing Council and LegaSea. 

The graphs provided in this report enable you to follow the yearly development and growth of kingfish. You can download a copy of the report at the above link.  

Report - Gamefish Tagging Synthesis. April 2016 

There have been 2166 fish of 20 species recaptured in the New Zealand Gamefish Tagging Programme, to the end of June 2014. The recapture numbers are dominated by yellowtail kingfish (1462) and mako shark (368). 

Satellite tagging of striped marlin in New Zealand waters has shown high survival rates of striped marlin post-release after the fish were caught with standard sport fishing methods and equipment. Striped marlin, mako and blue shark recaptures have been widely spread across the South Pacific. 

Report - Recreational Fishing in New Zealand.  March 2016 

We all know that recreational fishing is big business in New Zealand. Problem is we have never been able to quantify our contribution to the national good. This report, commissioned by the New Zealand Marine Research Foundation, is a break-through. The contribution that recreational fishing makes to the New Zealand economy has been conservatively estimated at around $1 billion dollar in direct spending, and this generates a conservative $1.7 billion in economic activity. 

Gamefish tagging news July 2015

gamefish tagging news

The New Zealand gamefish season ended on 30 June 2015. The season was notable for the return of yellowfin tuna across a range of sizes in modest but encouraging numbers, and more success targeting swordfish. Fishers often choose to keep the first gamefish of the season, for eating purposes. The New Zealand Sport Fishing Council encourages fishers to tag and release any subsequent catches of these prized species. 

Report. How do juvenile snapper benefit from their nursery habitat? March 2015

This research looked into the association of nursery habitats and how they contribute to the survival and growth of juvenile snapper in New Zealand. Researchers deployed artificial seagrass beds then examined the juvenile snapper using video observation, netting and diet analysis. Worth reading this interesting document!

Parsons et al. (2015). Mechanisms Explaining Nursery Habitat Association: How Do Juvenile Snapper Benefit from Their Nursery Habitat? PLoS ONE 10(3): e0122137. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0122137

Yellowtail kingfish newsletter. February 2015

Blue Water Marine Research report it has been a good year for kingfish catches. Kingfish is an increasingly popular target species for recreational fishers and divers. This project is collecting kingfish length and age data to monitor recruitment and exploitation rates in 2014-15. This will be compared to a similar survey five years ago. That survey found large numbers of 5 and 6 year olds, but few teenagers, especially in inshore waters. Areas like White Island are still producing some of the larger, older fish to be found in New Zealand. 

Gamefish tagging news December 2014

gamefish tagging newsThere were 2263 fish tagged in the 2013-14 season, including 647 kingfish, 346 mako sharks and 116 blue sharks. It was a poor season for billfish, both landed and tagged totals were down. There were 468 striped marlin tagged, down from 745 in 2012-13, 4 black marlin and just 9 blue marlin tagged and released. We are hoping for a better season in 2015. 

The good news is the blue water is moving closer in to the coast after a cool spring. The first marlin of the season was caught on 6 December 2014. This fish was caught by Kyle Riding wide of the Poor Knights and was tagged and released. 

Gamefish tagging news April 2014

gamefish tagging news

Since the 2013-14 season began on 1 July 2013 there have been 26 tag recoveries advised. In the same period another 1400 tagged fish have been added to the database. The recaptured fish comprised 17 kingfish, 2 striped marlin, 3 mako sharks, 1 x broadbill swordfish, 1 x southern bluefin tuna, 1 x hammerhead shark and 1 x bronze whaler shark. 

Of the 26 recaptures, 17 were made by recreational fishers and 9 by commercial fishers. The time at liberty for tagged fish ranged from one day to more than 12 years. The distance between release and recapture ranged from 0 to 1360 nautical miles. 

Report -  NZ billfish and gamefish tagging 2012-13. February 2014

Release and recapture data for the 2012-13 season are summarised in this report and compared with data from previous seasons. Particular recaptures that provide growth or movement information of significance or interest are described. The number of fish tagged and released in New Zealand this season (2263) was less than the ten year mean. 

Gamefish tagging news June 2011

gamefish tagging news

As of 1 June 2012 we have been advised of 50 tagged fish recaptured since July 2011. The recaptured fish comprise 40 kingfish, 6 mako sharks, 3 blue sharks and 1 swordfish.

The longest distance recorded this season was 1520 nautical miles from original tag site. This feat was achieved by a 42.8kg mako shark caught west of Melbourne, Australia, 399 days after being tagged off New Plymouth in March 2011.

Report. Modification of marine habitats by trawling. Kaiser MJ. April 2002

This research found productivity decreases as fishing intensity increases and high biomass species are removed from the benthic habitat. It also found that scavengers and small-bodied organisms, such as worms, dominate heavily fished areas. Major changes in habitat can lead to changes in the composition of the resident fish species. 

Kaiser et al. (2002). Modification of marine habitats by trawling activities: prognosis and solutions. Kaiser MJ. April 2002.

Tagging programme

game tag tagging programme

The New Zealand gamefish tagging programme is a cooperative project between the Ministry of Fisheries, the New Zealand Sport Fishing Council, its affiliated clubs and anglers.

It provides information on the size and distribution of fish released by recreational fishers. Recaptures provide information on distance and direction of movement, time at liberty, and in some circumstances, the average migration rate of the fish involved.

Yellowtail Kingfish tagging procedure


There have been about 16,000 kingfish tagged and released in New Zealand since the Yellowtail KIngfish Tagging Programme started in 1975. Most of these have been released in east Northland and the Bay of Plenty in the last 20 years.

There have been 1,200 recaptures reported, a recapture rate of 7.5%.

Tag and release of Billfish and Sharks

tracking marlin

Tag and release is an important part of deep sea angling in New Zealand.

New Zealand anglers tag and release about 1000 marlin and 300 sharks each year. This shows the commitment of recreational anglers to the conservation of the resource. The tagging data is critical for research into the growth and movement of these fish, which is difficult to collect in any other way.