Between 1950 and 2010, the total amount of marine fish caught in New Zealand waters is 2.7 times more than official statistics suggest, according to the best estimate to date. Unreported commercial catch and discarded fish account for most of the difference. Fish of little or no perceived economic value has been routinely dumped at sea and not reported. Bycatch – fish caught along with the target species is common and unavoidable. They’re routinely dumped if unmarketable, under the minimum legal size, or if the fish has no quota.

An extended estimate for 1950 -2013 reveals 24.7 million tonnes of fish went unreported, compared to the 15.3 million tonnes that were reported.

This study is part of a wider New Zealand research project aimed at informing seafood industry efforts to become as economically and environmentally sustainable as possible.