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Allocyttus nigerand & Pseudocyttus maculatus
Also known as:
Smooth Oreo, Smooth Dory, Smooth Oreo Day, Black oreo, Black Dory, Deeps Dory, Black Oreo Dory
LAST UPDATED: 1 October, 2020

Commercial fisheries occur for both black oreo (BOE) and smooth oreo (SSO). Oreos are managed as a species group (OEO), which also includes spiky oreo (SOR).

The main fishing area for oreo is on the Chatham Rise (OEO 3A and OEO 4), but other fisheries occur off Southland on the east coast of the South Island (OEO 1 and OEO 3A), and on the Pukaki Rise, Macquarie Ridge, and Bounty Plateau (OEO 6). In the past oreo catch has been taken as bycatch of the more valuable orange roughy fisheries but target fisheries are now much more common in most areas for smooth or black oreo.

Black and smooth oreo have been found within a 600 m to 1,500 m depth range. Unvalidated age estimates indicate that black oreo is slow-growing and the longest-lived with a maximum estimated age of 153 years.

Oreo is managed by Fisheries New Zealand (FNZ) using the Quota Management System (QMS). FNZ  works in partnership with Deepwater Group (a not for profit organisation that works on behalf of fisheries quota owners).

The risk assessment covers over 85% of oreos caught in New Zealand.

For more information, download the full risk assessment report.

Independent risk assessment conducted by:
MRAG Asia Pacific
Lead Assessor - Duncan Souter

The risk assessment framework is used to assess the relative environmental risks of Australian and New Zealand wild-caught fisheries on fish stocks and the aquatic environment.

Assessments are undertaken for each species according to multiple ‘units of assessment’ (UoAs). The UoA is a combination of target species/stock and the gear type used by the fishery. Each UoA is assessed against three components for target species, bycatch and ecosystems, and management systems. Each component has a number of performance indicators, which have associated criteria, scoring issues, and scoring guideposts. For each UoA, each performance indicator is assigned a risk score according to how well the fishery performs against the scoring guideposts. The summary of risk scores by UoA is presented in the table below.

An assessment of the future ‘outlook’ over the short to medium-term (0-3 years) is provided against each component. Outlook scores are provided for information only and do not influence current or future risk scoring.

All risk assessments are conducted by an independent third party. The process only takes a few days and includes opportunities for management groups and the government to provide input and peer review.

The information presented on this page is extracted from the independent species Risk Assessment Report.

Fishing Areas
Catch Quantities
Commercial catch allowance 2020/21
Commercial catch 2018/19
Historic catch quantity data
Estimated recreational catch
Estimated customary catch
Fishing Methods
Fishing Season
Peak season
Off season

Risk Assessment Summary

Most recent assessment
Management areas assessed
The risk assessment comprises three components:
Component 1: Target species
Component 2: Bycatch and ecosystems
Component 3: Management system

Target species

Component 1 of the risk assessment looks at the health of the population of target species including the current fishing effort and estimates a risk of overfishing.

The status of the oreo stocks varies by region and species. The SSO 3A stock appears to be highly likely to be above the point of recruitment impairment (PRI) and there is evidence that the stock is likely to be fluctuating at or around the target reference level. It appears highly likely the SSO 4 stock is also above PRI, but likely to be below the target reference point. The position of the BOE 3A stock relative to target and limit reference points is unknown but catches have fluctuated around the long-term average from 2002-03 to 2001-12. There is work underway to improve age validation and stock assessment for both main oreo species in OEO 3A as part of the Deepwater Group led Fishery Improvement Plans.

Although the information is incomplete, sufficient information appears to be available on stock structure, productivity, and fleet composition in the smooth oreo fishery to support an effective harvest strategy. The main weakness appears to be uncertainties in some of the population parameters (e.g., age, growth) in the different areas of black oreo stock.  The absence of a reliable assessment limits capacity to evaluate the position of the stock against reference points and apply harvest control rules.  Accordingly, some, but not sufficient, information appears to be available to support the harvest strategy.

Bycatch and ecosystems

Component 2 of the risk assessment looks at the risks around bycatch species and other environmental impacts of the fishery.

For the recent oreo fishery (since 2002), oreos (mainly black and smooth oreos) accounted for about 92% of the observed catch and about 96% of the total reported catch from the target fishery. The remainder of the (observed) catch was mainly orange roughy (3.5%), hoki (0.6%), and ling (0.3%), plus nominal amounts of non-commercial species. Orange roughy, hoki, and ling are all MSC certified fisheries.

The main potential endangered, threatened and protected species interactions in the oreo fishery are with seabirds, marine mammals and protected corals.

The available evidence indicates it is highly unlikely the trawls involving oreo will hinder the recovery of seabird species. In the most recent assessment, only one species of seabird, black petrel, had a median risk ratio higher than 1 (or upper 95% confidence limit higher than 2). There have been no estimated captures of black petrel in the oreo trawl fishery between 2002-03 and 2014-15.

There have been no observed incidental captures of New Zealand sea lions by trawlers targeting oreos from 2002–03 to date, but occasional captures of New Zealand fur seals are observed (which were classified as “Not Threatened” under the New Zealand Threat Classification System in 2010). Between 2002–03 and 2014–15, there were eight observed captures of New Zealand fur seal in oreo trawl fisheries, with estimated captures 2 or less since 2008-09. Based on this evidence it is highly unlikely that the fishery is impacting marine mammals.

There are no national or international limits set for protected coral interactions, however, given the very small proportion of the predicted distribution of each main protected coral group covered by the oreo fishery trawl footprint (< 0.6% across the EEZ and < 1.9% across the main trawl ground), it is probably reasonable to assume that the oreo fishery is highly likely to not hinder recovery of coral species.

Management systems

Component 3 of the risk assessment looks at the risks around the management systems of a fishery.

The Fisheries Act 1996 (the Act) and subsequent amendments provide a binding legislative and legal framework for delivering the objectives of Components 1 and 2.  Sections 10, 11, and 12 of the Act establish the requirements for the decision-making process, and Section 10 further requires the use of the best available information for all decisions. This results in measures and strategies to achieve the fishery-specific objectives. The Act requirement for best available information leads to scientific evaluation in advance of decisions. The Act further requires consultation with such persons or organisations as the Minister considers are representative of those classes of persons having an interest in the stock or the effects of fishing on the aquatic environment in the area concerned including Maori, environmental, commercial, and recreational interests.

Fisheries 2030, the National Fisheries Plan, and the Annual Operational plan provide well defined and explicit long and short-term objectives for the oreo fishery.

Summary of main issues

Main issues highlighted by the assessment are:

  • There is no accepted stock assessment model for BOE 3A, albeit standardised catch per unit effort has remained relatively stable at or around the long-term average since 2002-03 (to 2011-12).
  • The 2014 assessment of SSO 4 suggested a decline in biomass and a high likelihood (> 90%) that overfishing was occurring. The Total Allowable Commercial Catch has since been reduced from 2015-16 to levels which should allow the stock to rebuild to target levels within 30 years.
  • The trawl fishery uses gear fished on or near the bottom which is likely to result in some habitat modification.
  • The Deepwater Group is leading Fishery Improvement Plans for all three stocks.


The outlook below provides a qualitative judgment about the likely future performance of the fishery against the relevant risk assessment criteria over the short to medium-term (0-3 years).  Assessments are based on the available information for the species and take into account any known management changes.

  • Target species (SSO 3A) - Improving: Stock projections with the current catch limit of 1,400 t show increasing biomass.  The Deepwater Group Fisheries Improvement Plan aims to strengthen age validation and the stock assessment, as well as undertake management strategy evaluation.
  • Target species (BOE 3A) - Uncertain: The Deepwater Group Fisheries Improvement Plan aims to strengthen age validation and the stock assessment, as well as undertake management strategy evaluation.
  • Target species (SSO 4) - Uncertain: Total Allowable Catch was reduced to 3,150 t in 2015-16 which is expected to reverse the decline in biomass and move the stock towards Maximum Sustainable Yield. A non-regulatory limit of 2,000 t is applied to smooth oreo.  The Deepwater Group Fisheries Improvement Plan aims to strengthen age validation and the stock assessment, as well as undertake management strategy evaluation.
  • Bycatch and ecosystems - Stable:  No major changes to existing bycatch and ecosystem arrangements are expected.
  • Management systems - Stable:  No substantial changes are expected in management system risk scoring.


Please note: The risk assessment is not intended as a definitive assessment of fisheries sustainability. It is not intended to act as a replacement or alternative to formal fisheries ecolabeling programs such as the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC).
For more information, download the full Risk Assessment Report or contact us on hello@openseas.org.nz.
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