Fisheries and Resources Monitoring System

Orange roughy - South East Atlantic
Marine Resource  Fact Sheet
Stock status report 2016
Orange roughy - South East Atlantic
Fact Sheet Citation  
Orange roughy
Owned bySouth East Atlantic Fisheries Organisation (SEAFO) – More
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FAO Names: en - Orange roughy, fr - Hoplostète orange, es - Reloj anaranjado, ru - Большеголов атлантический (=берикс исландский)
Geographic extent of Orange roughy - South East Atlantic
Main Descriptors
Considered a single stock: Yes        Spatial Scale: Regional
Management unit: Yes        Reference year: 2015

Exploration for orange roughy first started in South Africa prior to 1994 but emphasis soon shifted to Namibia when an exploratory fishing license was given to a Namibian fishing company to search for commercial deep-water fish species. The fishery expanded, extending their fishing range into SEAFO CA. By 2008, a three year moratorium on orange roughy was enforced in Namibia and the fishery has not been re-opened yet.

Table 1 shows vessels that operated between 1995 and 2005 in the SEAFO CA. These vessels were also involved in the Alfonsino fishery during the same period.

Table 1. Orange roughy: Fleet information, Division B1.
Flag ID Name Length GRT Built HP IRCS
Nam L737 Southern Aquarius 54   01/01/1974 3000 V5SH
Nam L913 Emanguluko 31 483.00 01/01/1990 1850 V5SD
Nam L892 Petersen 43 650.00 01/01/1979   V5RG
Nam L861 Will Watch 69 1587.00 01/01/1972 2116 ZMWW
Nam L918 Hurinis 37 784.00 01/01/1987 1680 V5SW
Nam L1159 Bell Ocean II 57 1899.00 01/01/1990 3342 3BLG
Nam L830 Seaflower 92 3179.75 01/01/1972 4800 V5HO

Seven Namibian vessels (Table 1) were involved for the period that the fishery occurred in the SEAFO CA. The vessels employed the standard New Zealand “Arrow” rough bottom trawl with cut-away lower wings. Sweep and bridle lengths were 100 meters and 50 meters respectively. A “rock hopper” bobbin rig was used. The net had a 5-6 meter headline height when towed at 3- 3.5 knots and had an estimated wingspread of 15 meters. The cod end had a mesh of 110 mm. Each vessel spends on average 12 days at sea.
Habitat and Biology
Climatic zone: Temperate.   Bottom type: Unspecified.   Depth zone: Slope (200 m - 1000 m).   Horizontal distribution: Oceanic.   Vertical distribution: Demersal/Benthic.  

The aggregating behaviour of orange roughy contributed to its vulnerability to overexploitation globally. Spawning aggregations of orange roughy have been targeted in Namibia during winter. Outside the spawning seasons catches were found to be lower due to a more dispersed resource. Orange roughy are also extremely slow-growing and estimates of maximum age are in excess of 100 years.

Recruitment to the fishery is poorly understood as juveniles are not found in significant quantities. Adults have been caught in small amounts in both Angolan and South African waters, but not in large spawning aggregations as in Namibia. Orange roughy distribution also extends beyond the economic zones of the BCLME countries with good catches reported for example on the Valdivia Bank on the South Atlantic Ridge as well as on the fringes of the Agulhas Bank and Walvis Ridge in the southern Benguela.

Orange roughy (Hoplostethus atlanticus) is distributed globally (Fig. 1), but predominantly in the Southern Hemisphere.
Figure 1. Global distribution of Orange roughy (Branch 2001).
Geographical Distribution
Jurisdictional distribution: Straddling between High Seas and EEZ

Fishing mainly occurred on Ewing seamount and Valdivia Bank within the SEAFO CA. These operations started in 1995 and continued until 2005, with the exception of 1998 when no fishing took place. The fishing season usually extends from January to December and catches peak in winter months (May to July), which coincides with the spawning season of Orange roughy.
Figure 2. Geographical location of fishing activities in the SEAFO CA.
Water Area Overview
Spatial Scale: Regional

Geo References
Resource Structure
Considered a single stock: Yes

In the SE Atlantic Orange roughy may most probably be regarded as a single stock (management unit). In the BCLME region that species occurs within the economic zones of each of the coastal states as well as in the SEAFO CA.

For all the fishing grounds the home port is the same as the landing port, with Walvis Bay and Lüderitz the most important ports. All available landing information is presented in Table 2. However, the bulk of Orange roughy catches were recorded within the Namibian EEZ (Table 3). A total of 1270 trawls were made landing about 290 tonnes of Orange roughy.

Table 2. Catches of Orange roughy made by Namibia, Norway and RSA.
Nation Namibia Norway South Africa
Fishing method Bottom trawl Bottom trawl Bottom trawl
Management Area B1 A1 B1
Catch details (t) Retained Discarded Retained Discarded Retained Discarded
1995 40   N/F      
1996 8   N/F      
1997 5   22   27#**  
1998 N/F N/F 12      
1999 <1   N/F N/F    
2000 75   0      
2001 94   N/F N/F    
2002 9   N/F N/F    
2003 27   N/F N/F    
2004 15   N/F N/F    
2005 18   N/F N/F    
2006 N/F N/F N/F N/F    
2007 N/F N/F N/F N/F N/F N/F
2008 N/F N/F N/F N/F N/F N/F
2009 N/F N/F N/F N/F N/F N/F
2010 N/F N/F N/F N/F N/F N/F
2011 N/F N/F N/F N/F N/F N/F
2012 N/F N/F N/F N/F N/F N/F
2013 N/F N/F N/F N/F N/F N/F
2014 N/F N/F N/F N/F N/F N/F
2015 N/F N/F N/F N/F N/F N/F
2016* N/F N/F N/F N/F N/F N/F

N/F = No Fishing. Blank fields = No data available. * Provisional (Oct 2016) ** Sum of Catches from 1993 to 1997. # Values taken from the Japp (1999).

Table 3. Orange roughy landings (tonnes) in SEAFO CA and Namibian EEZ.
Year SEAFO CA Namibian EEZ
1994 N/F 1 872
1995 40 6 288
1996 8 17 381
1997 5 14 729
1998 N/F 10 040
1999 <1 2 699
2000 75 1 344
2001 94 874
2002 9 1 985
2003 27 1 730
2004 15 1 106
2005 18 297
2006 N/F 429
2007 N/F 288

The annual CPUE (total annual catch divided by number of trawls) are shown in figure 3. The CPUE was the highest in 1995 and thereafter decreased rapidly to reach the lowest CPUE in 1999. Since then the CPUE seems to have stabilized at a low level until 2005 after which there are no data. It has not been confirmed that this CPUE index reflects stock abundance for a highly aggregating species like orange roughy.
Figure 3. CPUE of Orange roughy in tonnes per trawl in Division B1 (SEAFO SC Report 2006).

Catch records for the period 1995 to 2005 are available (see Table 2 above). The number of hauls made per year are depicted in table 4 and shows that more hauls were recorded in years when the catches were high.

No Orange roughy survey has been conducted in the SEAFO CA.

Table 4. The total number of sets from which Orange roughy catches were derived for the period 1999-2004.
1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004
16 330 297 40 63 48
Overall Assessment Results

Since there is no fishery in recent years or any other independent data available within the SEAFO CA, no assessment can be done at the moment. However, future assessments for Orange roughy should be separated according to fishing ground, similar to what has been done for the New Zealand Orange roughy resource.
Scientific Advice

SC considered available data on orange roughy since the inception of the fisheries in SEAFO CA. =

There is no fishery data available since 2005 for orange roughy within the SEAFO CA, as a result SC cannot conduct stock assessment of the orange roughy stock within the Convention Area.
Management unit: Yes

Management Advice

SC recommends a moratorium for 2017 and 2018 on directed fishery in Division B1 and allowance for bycatch limit as proportion (10%) of the average of landings from the last five years with positive catches (i.e. 2001-2005), equivalent to 4 tonnes.

The SC did not consider the allowance of a 50 tonnes TAC in the remainder of the area and cannot review the current status quo, due to a lack of new information.

A harvest control rule shall be developed for orange roughy in the future as data becomes available.
Source of information
SEAFO “SC-SEAFO-2016. Report of the 12th Annual Meeting of the SEAFO Scientific Committee. SEAFO SC Report 2016.” 2016 Click to open
Boyer, D.C., Kirchner, C.H., McAllister, M.K., Staby, A. & Staalesen, B.I.  “The Orange Roughy Fishery of Namibia: Lessons to be learned about managing a developing Fishery. South African Journal of Marine Science, 23, 205-221.” 2001.
Branch, T.A.  “A Review of Orange Roughy (Hoplostethus atlanticus) Fisheries, Estimation Methods, Biology and Stock Structure. Payne, A. I. L., S. C. Pillar & R. J. M. Crawford, eds. A Decade of Namibian Fisheries Science. South African Journal of Marine Science. 23:181 - 203.” 2001.
Anon “Social economic studies. Deepfishman. Case Study 1A Report. Namibian Orange Roghy. Institute of Economics Studies. University of Iceland.” 2010.
Anon “Capricon Fisheries Monitoring. State of Stock Review Report No. 2. In: Japp D.W., M. G. Purves and S. Wilkinson, Status of the Fishery Resources in the Benguela Current Large Marine Ecosystem. Cape Town.” 2011.
Anon  “Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources. State of the Resource TAC recommendations report; Orange roughy. Namibia.” 2008.
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