Highly migratory species (HMS) spend only part of their time in New Zealand waters, and may migrate over considerable distances. New Zealand cooperates with other countries to manage these species, notably through Regional Fisheries Management Organisations including the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) and the Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna (CCSBT).
The main fishery groupings include large pelagic species such as bigeye tuna, southern bluefin tuna, and swordfish (pelagic fish are those which live near the surface or in the water column). These species form the basis of a valuable commercial surface longline fishery, which catches a range of tuna and other highly migratory species. Important bycatch species include albacore tuna, pelagic sharks such as mako, blue and porbeagle, and Ray’s bream and moonfish. Large pelagic species are also highly valued by recreational gamefishers, who fish for a wide range of species including marlins and swordfish.
New Zealand vessels take part in a commercial purse seine fishery for skipjack tuna both inside New Zealand waters (off the east and west coasts of the North Island), and elsewhere in the Pacific. Skipjack is also valued by recreational fishers.
The third main fishery grouping for highly migratory species is the commercial albacore troll fishery, which targets albacore tuna off the west coast of both islands over the summer months.