Barracouta: Quick Facts

Scientific name: Thyrsites atun

 Other names: maka, makaa, mangaa (Maori), couta, snoek.

Ranking: E (Red - Worst Choice)

Best Fish Guide: Barracouta

 Ranking: E (Red - Worst Choice)

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Alternative Choice: Kahawai

Description: Barracouta is a relatively short-lived species that is related to gemfish. It is widely distributed in the Southern oceans and whilst abundant in New Zealand’s cooler waters south of Cook Strait, they also occur in our northern waters, ranging from shallow inshore areas to depths of 200m. Once an undesirable bycatch species, barracouta are now an important part of trawl fishery catches.


Ecological concerns: The damage done to large areas of the seabed by bottom trawling, poor knowledge of stock boundaries, limited research, lack of a management plan and uncertainty over the sustainability of the current catch limit and recent catches. Bycatch of NZ fur seals, sea lions, albatrosses and petrels, non-target fish plus removal of this important predator species on food webs are also of concern.

Economic value: Main markets include Japan, China, Papua New Guinea, and South Africa. Total exports worth $28 million in 2008.



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

For a full ecological assessment, click here