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Review of blue cod fishing regulations


26 May 2020 – Minister’s decision on blue cod fishing regulations

Following consultation, the Minister of Fisheries has made decisions on blue cod regulations for both recreational and commercial fishing.

The minister has decided to:

  • require a minimum mesh size on blue cod pots of 54mm for both commercial and recreational fishers
  • apply a recreational minimum legal size of 33cm for blue cod in all areas, except BCO 1 (upper North Island) where the minimum legal size will remain at 30cm
  • require recreational fishers to land blue cod in a measurable state (unless to be immediately eaten on the fishing vessel from which it was taken)
  • apply a two-day accumulation limit for recreational blue cod fishers based on the daily bag limit set for all areas (except for the Fiordland Marine Area where the accumulation limit is 1 day)
  • set the daily recreational bag limits for blue cod in areas of the South Island and the Chatham Islands according to a traffic light system.

Note: The traffic light system assigns a colour rating to different areas in the South Island and the Chatham Islands. The rating can be changed as available information suggests stock health is improving or declining. The following blue cod bag limits apply to the areas:

  • green areas (healthy) are 15
  • orange (rebuilding/declining) are 10
  • red (in trouble) are 2. 

These measures will apply from 1 July 2020 and were developed as part of the National Blue Cod Strategy.

Recreational Blue Cod Regulations Overview – Map [PDF, 1.1 MB]

FAQs on the regulations change [PDF, 227 KB]

The National Blue Cod Strategy

24 April 2020 – Regulation changes delayed

Regulation changes for blue cod were delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

18 December 2019 – Changes on the fishing regulations

The Government is considering final advice on the proposed amendments to the blue cod regulations. A full announcement on any regulation changes for blue cod is expected in late February 2020. Any new regulations will likely come into effect in April 2020.

Have your say

Fisheries New Zealand sought your feedback on the following proposed changes:

  1. require all fishers to have a minimum cod pot mesh size of 54mm
  2. standardise the Minimum Legal Size (MLS) for recreational fishing at 33cm
  3. require all recreational fishers to land blue cod in a measurable state
  4. set a two-day accumulation limit for recreational fishing
  5. change the recreational daily bag limits for some blue cod stocks, according to a ‘traffic light’ system.

Note: In all cases, we also consulted on retaining the status quo as an option (that is, there may be no change to these regulations).

The consultation ran from 29 January until 5pm on 26 March 2019.

Background to proposals

The proposed changes were one outcome of the National Blue Cod Strategy, a guiding document to manage blue cod in New Zealand released in late 2018. Other initiatives outlined in the strategy included:

  • an integrated education and research programme
  • reviews of the total allowable catch, total allowable commercial catch, and allowances for key blue cod stocks later this year.

The changes were designed to ensure that areas that had been depleted by localised overfishing were rebuilt. In the Challenger East Area (including Marlborough Sounds), most of the measures (including a daily bag limit of 2) had been in place since December 2015 to ensure the ongoing sustainable utilisation of the fishery.

Consultation document

Proposed changes to the blue cod fishing regulations [PDF, 705 KB]

If you can’t open the document or would like printed copies, email

Related documents

Submissions are public information

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