Christchurch fish and chip shop stops selling popular tarakihi as stock levels hit 'crisis point'

A Christchurch fish and chip shop has stopped selling one of its most popular fish as the species sits at a dangerously low stock level.

Tarakihi is off at the menu at the popular shop, and the owner of Fush, Anton Matthews, is urging others to follow suit. 

"If a species like tarakihi is endangered and at crisis level, as MPI [Ministry for Primary Industries] would put it, people like me and Fush need to stand up and say enough is enough... be part of the solution, not the problem," Matthews told Newshub.

The business owner says he's recently been made aware of the low levels of tarakihi and immediately stopped selling it. It was one of their most popular fish - previously he was buying around 60kg of it every week.

Tarakihi stock levels are now at crisis point. MPI says stock levels in some areas are as low as 16 percent. If current catch levels are maintained, the species will not recover and may continue to decline.

"Let's just leave tarakihi alone, let them hang by themselves for a while, let that stock level get back up and let's try some other fish," says Matthews. 

But a Wellington fish and chip shop owner said she wouldn't be following suit, so long as the markets keep selling it.

"I will still continue to sell it, so it depends on the market... if they have [it], I will keep going," shop owner Vicky Shen told Newshub.

She says its popularity makes it hard to take a stand.

"So many customers will be very disappointed. Lots of New Zealanders love tarakihi for their fish and chips."

Matthews says his customers have responded well to the news. 

"The general reaction has been really positive," he says.

"Tangaroa... the ocean... is a resource we need to look after for future generations."

He wants to lead by example, so future generations can enjoy tarakihi with chips for dinner.