Latin names: Merluccius australis, M. paradoxus, M. capensis

Common name: Cod

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Wild Caught

New Zealand, South Africa

Key Facts

  • A number of different species of hake are available for sale in Australia. The majority of imported hake comes from New Zealand and South Africa.
  • Stocks of hake from NZ fisheries are healthy.
  • The South African fisheries target a deep and shallow water species of hake that are managed as a single unit; the deep-water species is overfished.
  • The trawled habitat in NZ and SA is not well mapped, so the impacts of these fisheries on the ecosystem are not well understood.
  • NZ hake are mainly caught in a fishery that targets blue grenadier; the fishery has a high bycatch of threatened seabirds that may be leading to population declines.
  • South Africa's hake fisheries have reduced their toll on seabirds, although mortalities of seabirds are still recorded. There are also concerns about the fishery's knock-on effects on animals higher up the food chain, such as cape fur seals and seabirds.

More information

  • New Zealand (1,771t imported 2011-12)
  • South Africa (1,396t imported 2011-12)

There are a number of different species of hake available for sale in Australia. The majority of imported product comes in frozen from South Africa and New Zealand, which catch three different species of hake.

Hake is caught in the fishery that mainly targets blue grenadier, as well as in a number of other fisheries in New Zealand, where the stocks all appear healthy. In South Africa, fisheries target both a shallow and deep-water species, which are managed as a single unit. While the stock of the shallow species is healthy, the deep-water species of hake is overfished.

Hake is trawled and caught on longlines in deep water and shallow water environments.  Seabed mapping of the trawled area in both countries is limited, but sensitive seafloor-dwelling species (corals and sea fans) have been identified in both mapped areas and in trawl nets, which means that fishing activity is directly threatening these long-lived and sensitive species. This is particularly concerning as species that inhabit deeper waters tend to be slow growing and long-lived, which means recovery from the impacts of trawling can take decades.

The New Zealand hake fisheries have significant impacts on threatened species, particularly seabirds including albatross and shearwaters; one fishery may be leading to population declines of the threatened Salvin’s albatross. Although South African fisheries have considerably reduced their impacts on threatened seabirds through use of devices attached to the back of boats that scare birds away from the fishing gear, albatross and other seabird mortalities are still recorded. In addition, there are indications that hake fishing is having a knock-on effect on the populations of animals higher up the food chain, such as cape fur seals and seabirds.