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Te Ika o Te Tau | Fish of the Year 2024 Winner Announcement

Te Ika o Te Tau | Fish of the Year 2024 Winner Announcement

Experiencing Marine Reserves (EMR) was stoked to run the fourth annual Fish of the Year | Te Ika o te Tau 2024 campaign, to crown New Zealand’s most loved ika - fish. Much like bird of the year, Fish of the Year aims to bring some of Aotearoa’s extensive but lesser known fish biodiversity to light with voting open from the 2nd of March to the 31st of March.

Aotearoa is home to around 1400 marine fish species (~300 endemic!) and 54 freshwater fish species, many of which are declining or threatened. These are among some of Aotearoa’s most loved ika - the great ocean voyagers, the camouflagers, the freshwater migrants and the rocky reef dwellers! Te Ika o te Tau | Fish of the Year aims to raise awareness for some of the issues our ika face and teach people about the incredible biodiversity in our freshwater and marine environments.  

Previous winners, whai repo/eagle ray and te whai rahi/oceanic manta ray watch on proudly from the hall of champions, while 43 other species compete to claim top spot. These range from freshwater minnows like the common bully to whale sharks, giants of the open ocean.

Ocean lovers across Aotearoa are putting together campaigns to elevate their favourite ika to the top of the pile, with 20 Official Backers and many more fans! EMR founder Samara Nicholas is hoping for a strong showing from two exciting ika. 

"For Fish of the Year I am backing two fish, the humble spotty/paketi as they are so reliable to 'spot' while out snorkelling and  are actually endemic to New Zealand. I’m also getting behind the 'crested weedfish' as they are super rare to see, but I was lucky enough to find one this summer and they tell an interesting story about the declining state of our underwater forests, as they rely on healthy seaweed forests to hide in!" EMR Founder Samara Nicholas.

Spotty are backed this year by Marine Invaders, visit the Fish of the Year website to see the full fish list and their Official Backers.


And the 2024 Te Ika O Te Tau winner is...

The spotty | pateki!

Spotties led from the get go, and more than quadrupled their vote tally from last year to claim top spot with 313 votes! These endemic, sex changing ika are the most common groundfish on New Zealand reefs, providing important links in food chains across Aotearoa!

A huge shoutout to spotties official backer, Marine Invaders, who have put together an amazing campaign to put the spotlight on this fantastic fish! Sign up to their newsletter and check them out to learn how to become a guardian of your moana!



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