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Orange Roughy

Orange Roughy

Orange Roughy Hoplostethus atlanticus; Collett, 1889. Family: Trachichthyidae

Widely distributed worldwide, the orange roughy is found on the slopes of the north-eastern Atlantic from Iceland to Namibia, on the mid-Atlantic Ridge and off Australia and New Zealand. The New Zealand fishery is the oldest and began in the 1970s when trawlers started exploiting aggregations on a number of local sea-mounts. Although the presence of orange roughy off the British Isles had been known since the 1970s when German trawlers reported catch rates of 20 tonnes per haul, it was undoubtedly the success of French trawlers in the early 1990s that led to a heightened interest in this fishery. The French exploited aggregations on pinnacles and sea-mounts in the Rockall Trough.

This species is one of the more slow-growing of the deep-water species. It is long-lived (it is estimated that the fish can live for between 75 and 100 years) and probably late maturing. All these factors count against a sustainable fishery, and landings have dropped dramatically - only 72 tonnes were landed in Scotland in 2001, compared with 492 tonnes in 1992.