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2015 review of the fishing rules for Marlborough Sounds blue cod

Minister’s decisions

Following consultation, the Minister for Primary Industries has made decisions on management measures for the blue cod fishery in the Marlborough Sounds and Challenger East areas.

The changes will create one set of rules for the area that covers the Marlborough Sounds and the Challenger East areas. The Minister’s decisions will see an end to the ‘slot rule’ and the 'transit rule', and they will set a commercial seasonal closure and commercial no-take zone around Maud Island matching those of the recreational sector. 

The Minister considers that this will create rules that are simple, understandable, and fair, while acknowledging that both recreational and commercial fishers have a role to play in ensuring the ongoing sustainable utilisation of this fishery. The new rules will come into effect on 20 December 2015. 

The Minister’s decision letter provides the details of, and the reasons for, each of his decisions. Further information can be found in the Decision Document.

Download the

Table: New settings following the Minister’s decisions on recreational and commercial blue cod regulations for the Challenger East (CE) area and the Marlborough Sounds Area (MSA).

AreaFishing rulesSettings from 20 December 2015
A new combined Marlborough Sounds and Challenger East area Recreational size limit New minimum size of 33 cm
'Slot rule' is removed
Recreational daily bag limit A total of 2 blue cod
You can possess up to 4 blue cod in the Challenger East Area (includes the Marlborough Sounds Area) if you can prove that no more than 2 of those blue cod were taken on any one day from the Challenger East Area. This restriction applies if you caught the fish from outside of the Challenger East Area and want to transit into the Challenger East Area.
'transit rule'
No transport restrictions
'Transit rule' is removed
filleting rule
No change to the rule to possess blue cod in a whole or gutted state only, unless fish are for immediate personal consumption
Marlborough Sounds area only Seasonal closure No change to the recreational seasonal closure 1 Sept to 19 Dec
New commercial seasonal closure 1 Sept to 19 Dec
hook limit
No change to the maximum of 2 hooks per line when
fishing for any species
Maud Island No take
finfish zone
No change to recreational no take
New commercial no take of any finfish

Background to consultation

The Blue Cod Management Group (BCMG), with support from the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), have led a review of the management measures that apply to the blue cod fishery in the Marlborough Sound and Challenger East areas. 

The review involved a period of community engagement prior to development of management options for the fishery. Following this period of engagement, the BCMG considered feedback from the public in developing a Consultation Document to seek feedback from tangata whenua and stakeholders on options for the fishery. Consultation on options ran from 2 June 2015 until 30 June 2015.

The proposals

The original proposals are outlined in the Consultation Document and accompanying information.

Consultation document [PDF, 542 KB]
Appendix One: Blue Cod Fishery Characterisation [PDF, 3.7 MB]
Summary of options and consultation process [PDF, 883 KB]

Information Sessions

The BCMG held information sessions during the review. These were for the following dates and locations.

Date: Thursday, 11 June
Drop-in between: 4.30pm – 7.30pm
Venue: Mana Cruising Club
5 Pascoe Avenue
Date: Tuesday, 16 June
Drop-in between: 4.30pm – 7.30pm
Venue: Rutherford Hotel
27 Nile Street West
Date: Wednesday, 17 June
Drop-in between: 4.30pm – 7.30pm
Venue: Marlborough Convention Centre
42a Alfred Street

Official Information Act

Your submission is public information. Submissions may be the subject of requests for information under the Official Information Act 1982 (OIA). The OIA specifies that information is to be made available to requesters unless there are sufficient grounds for withholding it, as set out in the OIA. You may wish to indicate grounds for withholding specific information in your submission. Reasons may include the information is commercially sensitive or it's personal information you want kept private. Any decision MPI makes to withhold information requested under the OIA is reviewable by the Ombudsman, who may request it's released.

Questions and Answers about the proposals

Q. What is the Blue Cod Management Group (BCMG) proposing?

A. The BCMG has developed 2 options for consideration. These options comprise a detailed package of proposals that look at changing the rules in both the Marlborough Sounds Area and also the wider Challenger (East) area. The options have implications for both recreational and commercial fishers. The pre-consultation events were strongly supportive of improved consistency across these two areas as part of an effective management regime.

Q. Why does this fishery require the regulations to be amended yet again?

A. Blue cod is a very popular species for both recreational and commercial fishers, especially over the summer months. At the same time it is a slow growing fish with very localised populations and it is easy to catch. It is important to ensure that the regulations are effectively balanced to ensure population at sustainable levels.

Q. How did the BCMG come up with these options?

A. The BCMG is made up of recreational and commercial fishers as well as MPI officials. The group developed the options after considering the latest science and gathering feedback from the community.