The Hoki (Macruronus novaezelandiae) is a deep water fish found in Pacific waters around New Zealand and Australia. While Hoki is an unfamiliar name to most Americans, thousands of Americans unknowingly eat this rather unattractive fish in popular fast food fish filet sandwiches, the McDonald’s “filet-o-fish” being the most well known.

The Hoki was once an abundant an seemingly sustainable fishery due to the species’ being a less popular source of white fish than Atlantic cod and Alaska pollock, however, when these stocks began showing signs of decline, companies such as McDonald’s saw Hoki as the next best thing. At the fishery’s height, McDonald’s alone was fishing up to 15 million pounds of hoki each year, however, this number is now down to 11 million pounds a year. Even at this lower rate, hoki is not sustainable, due in part to this high fishing pressure, compounded with the methods used for fishing. Because the hoki is fished during spawning season, the majority of the catch is sexually mature adults of which a large portion are pregnant females. By catching these reproducing individuals, the species is unable to reproduce at a rate fast enough to keep up with the catch rate. This has led to the Greenpeace organization placing the hoki on its seafood red list. The bottom trawling method used for fishing hoki has led to a destruction of their environment producing a bycatch that includes coral, sponges, marine mammals, sharks, and endangered sea birds.

Large Hoki Bycatch by Jennifer L. Jacquet, Shifting Baselines

Common foods made with Hoki:

McDonald’s Filet-o-Fish Sandwich and other fast food fish filet sandwiches- McDonald’s was the first fast food company to use the hoki on a large scale, however, many seafood chains and fast food restaurants have followed suite. McDonald’s only admits its use of hoki if you search deep into their website and look at the ingredients of their filet-o-fish sandwich. For you convenience, I’ve posted the link to the ingredients page in the first paragraph on this page.

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