Southern blue whiting
Name Scientific: Micromesistius australis
Availability: August to October
Attributes Weight: 0.4-0.6kg
Attributes Length: 40-50cm, reaching 55cm
Southern Blue Whiting are found in the cool sub-Antarctic water of the Campbell, Pukaki and Bounty Rises. They school near the seabed at depths of 450 and 650 metres. They also spend time in mid-water at night and during the early spring spawning season. The species is also found off the coast of South America.
Grey with a blue tinge, darker on the dorsal ridge with many small, black spots and shades to silver-white on the belly. Southern Blue Whiting have three dorsal and two anal fins that distinguish the species from small hake. They have a slender but moderately rounded body, large eyes and mouth, and loose scales that are easily dislodged.
Southern Blue Whiting are members of the Gadidae family (true cods).
Southern blue whiting are almost entirely restricted in distribution to sub-Antarctic waters. They are dispersed throughout the Campbell Island Rise and Bounty Platform for much of the year. For stock assessment purposes, it is assumed that there are four stocks, based on the main spawning areas: Campbell Island Rise, Bounty Platform, Pukaki Rise, and the Auckland Islands. The commercial fisheries focus on the spawning period and the Auckland Islands stock, and to a lesser extent the Pukaki Rise stock, are often largely unfished. Acoustic surveys are used to monitor abundance in the main Campbell Island Rise and Bounty Platform stocks. Recruitment of southern blue whiting can vary significantly from year to year with a single, strong, year class (fish of the same age) often dominating catches for several years. In the Bounty Platform stock, a strong 2002 year class caused a sharp increase in abundance; this has subsequently declined but the stock is still assessed to be about the target biomass level. The Campbell Island Rise stock has seen strong year classes in 2006, 2007 and potentially 2009 and biomass is expected to increase in the next few years as these year classes grow and dominate the fishery.
The fishery was certified against the Marine Stewardship Council standard in 2012.
Delicate, moist and easily flaked fish characterises southern blue whiting. It has a low oil content and firmer flesh than the blue whiting from the northern hemisphere.
When buying whole southern blue whiting, always check the... EYES: Bright and clear cornea, shiny black pupil GILLS: Rosy pink pastel coloured gills SKIN: Bright, with a luminous sheen When buying southern blue whiting fillets, always check the... FLESH: semi-transparent and glossy If the fish looks sticky or mushy then it is not fresh.