February 2009
This report summarises work undertaken to identify coral samples collected by observers on commercial fishing vessels over the 2007/08 fishing year.


This final research report presents on the requirements of Project DOC08309 INT2007/03: To identify samples of corals returned through the CSP observer programme during the 2007/08 fishing year (1 October 2007 – 30 September 2008).

Protected species need to be adequately described to ensure legal obligations of the Wildlife Act are followed. As such, samples of protected coral taxa, or of coral species that may appear to be a protected coral taxa, have been returned by observers from commercial fishing vessels as part of the Department of Conservation CSP Observer Programme requirements.

The coral by-catch samples (n=539), were sorted and identified to lower taxa (families, genera, species). Overseas experts confirmed the coral species identifications. Using common links of trip_number and station_number the Centralised Observer Database (COD) was updated with the correctly identified MFish species codes. NIWA Collections (NIC) database Specify also stores the information as coral samples are held in stewardship by NIWA for the Department of Conservation. Historical coral material that was previously received by Te Papa, were provided to NIWA and form part of the database summaries. Educational material to aid species identification has been prepared in the form of a Coral Guide (Tracey et al. 2007).

All associated event data (e.g. target species, depth), have been made available in order to help monitor and quantify protected species interactions with commercial fisheries. Fisheries that have had corals recorded as by-catch include those for deepwater and middle depths species such as orange roughy, black oreo, hoki, squid, and white warehou.

The deepsea coral samples returned by observers represent a valuable data source that can be used to elucidate the relationships between invertebrates and commercial fishing activity. The sample data will enable researchers and managers to help identify where specific coral groups and their associated fauna are at the highest risk of interactions with fishing gear.

Publication information

Author: Di Tracey

Prepared for Department of Conservation

NIWA Client Report: WLG2009-14. February 2009. NIWA Project: DOC08309.


Conservation Services Programme
Department of Conservation
PO Box 10-420
Wellington 6143


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