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Orange Roughy

Orange Roughy

Latin names: Hoplostethus atlanticus

Common Names: Deep Sea Perch

Wild Caught - Australian and Imported

Orange Roughy location Imported location

Region Caught:

  • Commonwealth Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery (Commonwealth Trawl Sector) (48t 2012-13)
  • Imported from New Zealand

Orange roughy is a long-lived, deep-sea species. Individuals live for well over 100 years, which is one of the longest lives of any fish known. They live around seamounts (underwater mountains) at depths of down to 1800m. Orange roughy also tend to aggregate together, which has made them particularly easy for fisheries to target in previous years.

The first fisheries for orange roughy began operating in the 1980s and 90s and landed huge quantities of fish. However, catches rapidly declined from as high as 40,000 tonnes per year to 10s of tonnes within a period of two decades. As a particularly long-lived species that reproduces late (at around 20-35 years of age) extensive fishing pressure reduced populations to a point where the species could not reproduce quickly enough to replace fish removed by fishing.

There are two areas open to fishing in the Australian fishing zone; the eastern zone was re-opened in 2015 following evidence of marginal re-building although there are concerns over the targeted fishing of a stock that remains at a quarter of historical abundances.  The species is also listed as ‘conservation dependent’ under Commonwealth environmental legislation, a listing that still permits targeted fishing of this protected species.

In NZ, the health of orange roughy stocks is mixed, with some stocks classified as 'overfished' and a lack of information for others. Targeted fishing is still occurring of overfished stocks, although other areas have been closed where populations of orange roughy are overfished.

Orange roughy are caught using deep-sea bottom trawlers over seamounts. The area of Australia where orange roughy are currently caught has not been mapped. However, research has identified that deep-water marine habitats support species that are generally slow growing and highly sensitive to disturbance, in particular, deep-water corals, which can take decades to recover after a single trawl. Seafloor damage as a result of bottom trawling has been recorded in other areas where deep-sea fishing for orange roughy has taken place.

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Orange Roughy classification

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