Rig Shark/Lemonfish

Rig Shark: Quick Facts

Scientific name: Mustelus lenticulatus

Other names: Pioke, Makoo (Maori), Lemonfish, spotted dogfish, smoothhound, spotted estuary smooth-hound, gummy shark, hoshizame (Japan).

Ranking: E (Red - Worst Choice)


Best Fish Guide: Rig Shark/Lemonfish

 Ranking: E (Red - Worst Choice)

Alternative Choice: No alternative


Description: This small species of shark is a popular “fish and chip” fish (espcieally in Northern New Zealand). It has moderately fast growth and reproductive rates that make it less prone to overfishing than most shark species. Rig is found around New Zealand, usually in waters no more than 200m deep. It is caught in very long bottom set nets and in trawl nets, with a proportion also caught as bycatch in other targeted trawl fisheries. 

Ecological concerns: The rig fishery is notorious for posing a significant threat to globally threatened Hector’s and Maui’s dolphins, where they have been caught and killed in nets (especially set nets). Set nets and inshore trawling are also responsible for the bycatch of other dolphins, fur seals and seabirds. Restrictions on set netting and trawling introduced in May 2008 have reduced the risk of catching these endangered dolphins and other bycatch species. 

Other concerns with the rig fishery include the limited research on it, the lack of quantitative stock assessments, unknown sustainability of some catch levels and limits (with declines in some stocks) and the lack of a comprehensive management plan. There are also concerns about seabed damage caused by trawling.

Economic value: Rig is sold in New Zealand and Australia, with exports of about $2.5 m.



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

For a full ecological assessment, click here