Download the complete Stock Status Report for Hoplostethus atlanticus.

Stock distribution and identity

Orange roughy (Hoplostethus atlanticus) is distributed globally (Fig. 1), but predominantly in the Southern Hemisphere. 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.

Figure 1: Global distribution of orange roughy (Branch, 2001).

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.

Reported retained catches and discards

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.  A total of 1270 trawls were made landing about 290 tonnes of orange roughy. 

Nation Namibia Norway South Africa
Fishing method Bottom trawl Bottom trawl Bottom trawl
Management Area B1 A1 B1
Catch details (t) Ret. Dis. Ret. Dis. Ret. Dis.
1995 40

1996 8

1997 5
1998 N/F N/F 12

1999 <1

2000 75

2001 94

2002 9

2003 27

2004 15

2005 18

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

Ret.= retained catch, Dis. = discarded catch
N/F = No Fishing.                           Blank fields = No data available.
* Provisional (Aug 2014)
** Sum of Catches from 1993 to 1997.
# Values taken from the Japp (1999).

Spatial and temporal distribution of fishing

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 1: Geographical location of fishing activities in the SEAFO CA.