Characterisation of New Zealand kina fisheries


Miller, S. L., & Abraham, E. R. (2011). Characterisation of New Zealand kina fisheries. New Zealand Fisheries Assessment Report 2011/7. 95 p. Retrieved from


The fishery for kina in New Zealand is based on a single endemic urchin species (Evechinus chloroticus). This report characterises commercial and customary fisheries for kina, primarily by summarising data from the Ministry of Fisheries catch effort database, and by analysing fine-scale data from a voluntary programme that has operated in the southern kina fishery since 2004—05. The analysis is supplemented by a review of literature on sea urchins and invertebrate fisheries, and by information from semi-structured interviews with commercial and customary stakeholders participating in the New Zealand kina fishery.

Kina were introduced into the Quota Management System (QMS) in October 2002 (South Island), and October 2003 (North Island). There are 12 quota management areas (QMAs) for kina, with the commercial kina catch concentrated in four of those: SUR1B (Auckland - South), SUR4 (Chatham Islands), SUR7A (Marlborough Sounds), and SUR5 (Southland). Kina are commercially harvested primarily by hand-gathering while free-diving, but there have also been small dredge fisheries targeting kina in SUR7A and SUR1B.

In this report, the kina catch and effort data for dive and dredge fisheries are summarised for the 20 fishing years 1989-90 to 2008-09. The kina fishery in New Zealand currently harvests around 750 t of kina per year, compared with a Total Allowable Commercial Catch (TACC) of 1147 t. A small amount of kina bycatch (an average of less than 5 t per year) is reported from fisheries targeting other species. The kina industry is small, with 75% of the catch in the 2008—09 fishing year being harvested by nine vessels. Since the introduction of kina into the QMS, the number of vessels fishing for kina has decreased, and the average catch per vessel per year has increased.

In SUR5, a voluntary logbook scheme to collect fine-scale data has been operating since the 2004—05 fishing year. As part of this scheme, one fishing company has recorded their catch in Paua Statistical Areas, using the same format as the Paua Catch Effort Landing Return (PCELR) forms. Kina harvest recorded in fine-scale Paua Statistical Areas accounted for 68% of all kina harvested in SUR5 over that period, with the harvest from SUR5 accounting for 46.6% of the national harvest between 2004—05 and 2008—09. The average catch per unit effort from the fine-scale data was 196 kg kina per hour underwater. The best estimate from statistical modelling of the fine-scale data was that in 2008—09 the CPUE in the most heavily fished area (F41) was 77% of what it had been in 2005—06. There was a 95.3% probability that the CPUE in this area had decreased between 2006 and 2009. The identity of the diver was the most important factor for explaining variation in the CPUE, followed by the diving conditions. One-quarter of the catch reported by the fine-scale scheme came from a single fine-scale area (F41), and two individual divers caught 47% of the catch.

Data on the customary harvests of kina were obtained from the Ministry of Fisheries Customary database. These data are reported quarterly, at the QMA level. Some customary fishing occurs under regulation 27 of the Fisheries (Amateur Fishing) Regulations 1986 and reporting is not mandatory. Information from interviews with customary fishers and Tangata Kaitiaki indicated that a large amount of customary fishing may occur under the amateur fishing regulations and is therefore not reported. The customary data held by the Ministry of Fisheries do not represent actual levels of customary harvest.

Interviews were conducted with a range of participants in the kina fishery, including commercial fishers, customary fishers, and processors. The interviews were qualitative, and gathered a range of information on practices both within the commercial industry, and by customary fishers. The commercial participants interviewed aided our interpretation of commercial data. Customary fishers or Kaitiaki interviewed stressed available data under-reported customary landings.

Recreational harvest of kina have not been well quantified but a diary survey in 2000 suggests that for SUR1, 2, 8, and 9, this could comprise a large portion of the total harvest.

As well as a wide range of research conducted on kina ecology and biology, there has been research on the factors that influence roe colour and taste. Few studies of kina distribution and abundance were found that would be relevant to managing the fishery. The literature on managing small scale fisheries targeting sedentary, spatially variable species was explored. A general conclusion was that these fisheries require the use of fisher reported information, and that they require small-scale information on effort and harvest.

This report concludes that the commercial kina fishery should be monitored at a smaller spatial scale than currently occurs. This would allow more reliable monitoring of changes in CPUE than is possible with data collected at the statistical area level. More detailed reporting following, for example, the format of the Paua Catch Effort Landing Return (PCELR), would also allow catch and effort to be recorded at the individual diver level. This is important for interpreting any patterns in CPUE. At present kina recovery rate or size are not recorded. Shed sampling for this information would allow any variation in these important parameters to be determined.