Hoki: Quick Facts

Scientific name: Macruronus novaezelandiae

Other names: whiptail, blue hake, blue grenadier (NZ), langschwanz-seehecht (Germany), merluse (France), merluza azul (Spain), nasello azzurro (Italy), hoki de nouvelle-zelande.

Ranking: E (Red - Worst Choice)

Best Fish Guide: Hoki

 Ranking: E (Red - Worst Choice)

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Alternative Choice: Trevally

Description: Hoki is a relatively fast growing, deepwater species related to cod and hake. It generally lives beyond the shelf edge from 50 to 900m, but is most abundant between 300 and 600m. There are two intermixing biological stocks, generally referred to as the eastern and western stocks. Trawling occurs year round making hoki one of New Zealand’s largest fisheries. Hoki are targeted and caught in their spawning grounds on the West Coast of the South Island and the Cook Strait, plus some smaller spawning areas on the east coast of the South Island and Pusegar Banks. When not spawning, hoki are caught in the sub-Antarctics and on the Chatham Rise where juveniles of both stocks are found. Despite being certified as sustainable under the international Marine Stewardship Council scheme, it still has significant ecological impacts. 

Ecological concerns: The bycatch of hundreds of NZ fur seals, albatrosses and petrels each year, plus bycatch of globally threatened basking sharks. When bottom trawling, the fishery has significant impacts on the seafloor, altering seabed communities. 

Also of concern is the management of two stocks as one quota management area, the slow response to past stock declines so that large quota cuts were needed and the failure to take precautionary action in the face of potential stock recovery. (Quotas this year are being increased back to 130,000 tonnes - just over the level set following initial cuts in 2004. This increase is based on estimated that the west coast hoki stock are just within target levels for the first time in many years. Additional concerns include illegal mis-reporting of catches, the significant catches of small fish (over 40%) on the Chatham Rise and on the West Coast, plus the lack of a management plan.

Economic value: Most hoki is exported to the USA, Europe - including the UK and Belgium – Japan and Australia. Hoki exports were worth $188 million in 2010-11,which was still well down from $346 million in 2001. The Fillet ’o’ Fish sold at McDonalds in New Zealand is hoki.


Biology and risk of overfishing (score C)
Status and sustainability of fish catches (score C)
Impact of fishing method and protected, threatened and endangered species captures (score E and E)
Management and management unit (score B and C)

For a full ecological assessment click here