Elephant Fish

Elephant Fish: Quick Facts

Scientific name: Callorhinchus milli

Other names: repe, reperepe, makorepe, (Maori), silver trumpeter, white fillets, elephant shark (Australia), zoginzame, zoginbuku (Japan).

Ranking: E (Red - Worst Choice)

Best Fish Guide: Elephant Fish

 Ranking: E (Red - Worst Choice)

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Description: This small shark species, which is only found in New Zealand, has biological characteristics that make it relatively less prone to overfishing than most shark species. It is most common on the east coast of the South Island to depths of 200m, where it is caught mainly as bycatch off the Banks Peninsula in trawl fisheries and as a target species in set nets. 

Ecological concerns: The lack of a management plan, the unknown sustainability of some recent catch levels and catch limits and the failure to carry out a full stock assessment. Also of concern is the impact of trawling on the seabed and associated communities plus non-target fish bycatch of set netting. Restrictions on set netting and trawling introduced in May 2008 have reduced the risk of catching endangered Hector’s dolphins. However, offshore fishing outside the closed areas still poses a significant risk to these dolphins.

Whilst there is no management plan for elephant fish, in 2008 a New Zealand National Plan of Action for the Conservation and Management of Sharks was developed. However, there are no specific conservation actions for elephant fish, nor is there any difference in its management from the status quo.

Economic value: Market in New Zealand and exports of about $1m in 2008 to Australia and North America.  New Zealand is amongst the top 20 exporters of shark product.


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 D and E)
Management and management unit (score C and B)

For a full ecological assessment click here