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Browse the 1966 Encyclopaedia of New Zealand
Graphic: An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand 1966.


This information was published in 1966 in An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock. It has not been corrected and will not be updated.

Up-to-date information can be found elsewhere in Te Ara.



The Fishing Industry

The fishing industry in New Zealand is based mainly on demersal species and is confined to the continental shelf which in many places is comparatively narrow. Prevailing westerly winds and the paucity of good harbours on the west coast are natural features which have encouraged greater concentrations of fishing boats and fishing activities on the east coast. The class of vessel found most suitable for New Zealand conditions is the motor trawler from 40–60 ft in length, and these vessels at times range many hundreds of miles in the course of their fishing. Technical advances such as the radio telephone, refrigeration, more powerful and more reliable engines, and electronic fishing aids are responsible for the increased range of fishing activities in recent years. In some ports the vessels still operate mainly on the daily basis but usually, where trawling is concerned and in all vessels fitted with freezers, the trips extend to a week at a time, while some refrigerated crayfish vessels in the southern part of New Zealand do trips of approximately one to two months' duration.

In 1964 there were 1,567 licensed fishing vessels and 2,744 fishermen employed in the industry. Of these vessels 270 were motor trawlers, 12 were Danish seiners, and 1,242 line and net boats; 19 boats were licensed to dredge oysters, 18 of which were for Foveaux Strait, and 19 boats were licensed in various ports to take mussels. 659 vessels were licensed for crayfishing, while 117 were licensed for other industries including pauas and scallops. Vessels normally are licensed for more than one method of fishing.

Trawlers landed 77 per cent and Danish seiners 4 per cent of the total wet fish, while 12 per cent was caught by lines and 7 per cent by set and drag nets.