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Source: NIWA – National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research

After 40 years of work, retired NIWA fisheries scientist Larry Paul has just published a 793-page bibliography of references to New Zealand marine fishes. Everything known and ichthyological that appears in our waters is referenced in the voluminous tome.    

Titled ‘Research on New Zealand’s marine fish and fisheries: a guide to the literature, 1769 to 2015,’ the oldest published references are from the naturalist who travelled with Captain Cook on his first scientific voyage to the Pacific between 1768 and 1771.      

Retired since 2005 and living on the Kapiti Coast, Larry says the bibliography will be of value to researchers who want to locate fisheries information without having to go through library catalogues or trawl through online search databases. 

Larry’s bibliography is a serious research tool that brings together references from articles, books, dissertations, parliamentary and museum files, primary materials and other academic sources. 

References cover the identity and biology of New Zealand marine fishes, their fossil and archaeological record, and the commercial and recreational fisheries they support. It all began as a card index in the 1960s when Larry was working for the Fisheries Research Division of the NZ Marine Department.     

“Over the years I worked on a variety of fish species and seemed to get given projects at short notice. I kept a record of the references I had to track down, and this gradually built into a primitive sort of database that others began using. On retirement it seemed sensible to turn it into a more generally available resource,” he says.  

“During my career, I was one of the people who wrote documents about species I didn’t know a lot about. It was always a scramble to locate the literature. That was the driving force behind creating something that would let people very quickly get access to what was already known.” 

Larry says New Zealand is an interesting place to study fish because our Exclusive Economic Zone ranges from the sub-tropical with lots of different (but less abundant) fish species to the sub-Antarctic with fewer (but more abundant) species. 

For all that the bibliography covers, Larry says new species of fish are still being discovered throughout New Zealand’s waters.    

Read more: Research on New Zealand’s marine fish and fisheries: a guide to the literature, 1769 to 2015