Mitch Harris: 'If there's no Hoki, the price of fish will go through the roof'

Night Talk 26/09/2018
Credit: MPI / Newshub.

Night talk: Mitch Harris opening comments, Wednesday 26th September 2018.

Tonight: There's a huge problem in NZ's biggest hoki ground on the West Coast. The most popular fish in New Zealand is in serious trouble.

Skippers fishing in the West Coast hoki ground are struggling to catch the fish, and say they're no longer there in large numbers.

As a result, the industry has decided to voluntarily give up millions of dollars' worth of quota.

Hoki earned New Zealand $61 million in exports this year. It's what you've probably been served at your local chip shop, and it's used in McDonald's Fillet-O-Fish burger.

But there's a problem in the biggest hoki ground on the West Coast, says Te Ohu Kaimoana (Māori Fisheries Trust) chief executive Dion Tuuta.

"What industry skippers are noticing is that in one area in the West Coast, the fish are not turning up in the numbers expected."

There are five hoki grounds in New Zealand. Four are still fishing well, according to the industry - but the massive West Coast fishery is not, prompting all the big players to cut the quota there by 22 percent.

"This is a significant undertaking by the industry," says Mr Tuuta. "It's going to cost them millions."

There's another undertaking - fishing during spawning periods, or in areas where juveniles are, will stop.

Night Talk with Mitch Harris, 8pm - 12am Monday to Thursday nights on RadioLIVE, and streaming live to the rova app on Android and iPhone.