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Proposal to reopen the Kaikōura coastline to pāua, shellfish, and seaweed fishing for the 2022-23 fishing year

12 april 2023 – new recreational pāua fishing rules will apply to the marfells beach to conway river area

Following consultation, the Acting Minister for Oceans and Fisheries has agreed to new recreational fishing rules that will apply to the Kaikōura pāua fishery when the season is open from 15 April to 15 June 2023.

During this period, the following rules apply within the Marfells Beach to Conway River Area.

Daily and minimum legal-size limits


Blackfoot pāua

Yellowfoot pāua

Marfells Beach to Conway River Area

Daily limit – 3 pāua per person

Daily limit – 3 pāua per person


Minimum length – 125 mm

Minimum length – 80 mm

Oaro-Haumuri Taiāpure

Daily limit – 2 pāua per person

Daily limit – 2 pāua per person


Minimum length – 135 mm

Minimum length – 80 mm

Closed areas

These areas remain closed to pāua gathering:

  • Hikurangi Marine Reserve
  • Te Taumanu o Te Waka a Maui Taiāpure (Kaikōura Peninsula)
  • Oaro Mātaitai
  • Mangamaunu Mātaitai
  • Te Waha o te Marangai Mātaitai.

When gathering pāua over 2 or more days, the maximum amount of pāua you can possess is 2 daily limits, including at home.

A daily limit only applies to the person actively involved in gathering pāua from the sea. You are not entitled to gather pāua for another person who is not involved in fishing.

From 15 April 2023 onwards, most other commercial and recreational fisheries currently closed will be reopened under existing management settings. The above closed areas will also apply. All fishing of bull kelp (Durvillaea spp.) will continue to be prohibited due to sustainability concerns.

Map of the Marfells Beach to Conway River Area showing open and closed areas to recreational pāua gathering.

19 December 2022 – Announcement of decision to reopen the Kaikōura coastline to pāua fishing

Following consultation, the Minister for Oceans and Fisheries has decided that the Kaikōura pāua fishery will be reopened in 2023 as follows:

  • The commercial fishery will be permanently opened from 5 January 2023 and is constrained to 23 tonnes by the Total Allowable Commercial Catch (TACC).
  • The recreational fishery will be open for a limited 2-month period from 15 April to 15 June 2023.

The minister will receive further advice from Fisheries New Zealand in February 2023 on additional measures for the recreational pāua season. Advice on reopening other closed fisheries to fishing will also be provided at that time.

Minister's decision letter [PDF, 128 KB]

Media release: Kaikōura pāua fishery to reopen in 2023


Consultation background

MPI sought feedback on new proposals to reopen the Kaikōura coastline to pāua fishing for the 2022-23 fishing year. 

The Kaikōura coastline (Marfells Beach, around Cape Campbell, and south to the Conway River, and including the Kaikōura Marine Area) is currently closed to all commercial and recreational pāua fishing, as well as for most other shellfish and seaweed species (except rock lobster, scampi, octopus, and kina).

This area was opened to pāua fishing for a limited 3-month season last year (1 December 2021 to 28 February 2022) after being closed for 5 years following the November 2016 earthquakes.

Fisheries New Zealand sought comments on the proposals to reopen the commercial and recreational pāua (blackfoot and yellowfoot) fishery.

On this web page find:

What's being proposed for recreational fishing?

This table summarises the options under consideration.

Management tool or method



Open the fishery from:

Option 1: 1 March to 30 April 2023 (2 months)

Option 2: 1 May to 31 July 2023 (3 months)

Daily limit

The existing accumulation limit of 2 daily limits will continue to apply.

Option 1: 5 pāua per person

Option 2: 3 pāua per person

Option 3: 2 pāua per person

The daily limit would now include both blackfoot and yellowfoot pāua combined.

Minimum legal‑size limit (MLS)

Blackfoot only.

Option 1: greater than 125mm (status quo)

Option 2: greater than 130mm

Option 3: greater than 135mm

The 80mm minimum legal-size for yellowfoot pāua will continue to apply.

Maximum vehicle and vessel daily limit

New measure.

Option 1: maximum of up to 2 daily limits

Option 2: maximum of up to 4 daily limits

Note: Fisheries New Zealand will commission a further independent recreational fishing survey to monitor the effectiveness of measures implemented during the next season. Consideration can be given to adjusting recreational measures during the season should catch exceed expectations.

What's being proposed for commercial fishing?

  • Open the fishery year-round.
  • Retain current TACC of 23 tonnes.
  • Voluntary measures under 2 fisheries plans will implement catch spreading arrangements (including fishing away from popular recreational fishing areas) and a 135mm+ minimum harvest size.

Other proposals

We sought your feedback on these proposals:

  • Whether to open the Kaikōura coastline to all other shellfish and seaweed species fishing (except bull kelp, Durvillaea) at the same time as the recreational pāua fishery is opened. The closed area currently applies to most other shellfish and seaweed species (except rock lobster, scampi, octopus, and kina).
  • A temporary closure under section 186B of the Fisheries Act 1996 is in place at Waiopuka (Wakatu Quay), Kaikōura Peninsula, which applies to all fish, shellfish, and seaweed species. This area is included within Te Taumanu o Te Waka a Māui Taiāpure. There is initial support for this temporary closure to be either extended or included in an ongoing closure of the taiāpure.
  • Whether longer-term approaches for managing recreational pāua catch at Kaikōura should be explored further, such as voluntary fisher self-reporting and/or catch tagging systems used overseas for abalone fisheries.

Consultation documents

Kaikoura Recreational Fishing Reopening - October 2022 [PDF, 2.5 MB]

Background information

Our 2021 consultation web page has detailed background information on the history of the Kaikōura fishery closure and the limited 3-month opening of the commercial and recreational pāua fishery. You'll also find links to:

  • research reports on the recovery of fisheries resources along the Kaikōura coastline
  • the PAU 3 and PAU 7 fisheries plans.


Submissions are public information

Note that all, part, or a summary of your submission may be published on this website. Most often this happens when we issue a document that reviews the submissions received.

People can also ask for copies of submissions under the Official Information Act 1982 (OIA). The OIA says we must make the content of submissions available unless we have good reason for withholding it. Those reasons are detailed in sections 6 and 9 of the OIA.

If you think there are grounds to withhold specific information from publication, make this clear in your submission or contact us. Reasons may include that it discloses commercially sensitive or personal information. However, any decision MPI makes to withhold details can be reviewed by the Ombudsman, who may direct us to release it.

Official Information Act 1982 – NZ Legislation