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Review of recreational management measures for the CRA 5 (Canterbury/Marlborough) rock lobster fishery


26 May 2020 – Minister’s decision on CRA5 recreational fishing regulations

Following consultation, the Minister of Fisheries has made decisions on 3 measures proposed by the National Rock Lobster Management Group for recreational fishers in the CRA5 (Canterbury/Marlborough) rock lobster fishery.

To assist with minimising illegal take in CRA5, the minister has decided to introduce:

  • recreational telson (tail fan) clipping for spiny rock lobster
  • an accumulation limit of 3 daily bag limits or 18 lobsters. This is the maximum number of rock lobsters that a recreational fisher can have in their possession
  • ‘bag and tag’ conditions requiring a single day's catch to be stored in a clearly labelled bag or container.

These measures will apply from 1 July 2020.

Documents about the decisions

Decision document [PDF, 1.3 MB]
Appendix 4: CRA 5 Submissions [PDF, 9.3 MB]
One-pager for new CRA 5 measures [PDF, 429 KB]

These measures already apply to the Kaikōura Marine Area, a sub-area of CRA5, and are intended to discourage and dissuade illegal fishing in the wider CRA5 area. 

Find out more about the decisions

Telson clipping

Accumulation limit

Bag and tag conditions

Telson clipping

The telson is the central part of the tail fan on a rock lobster. Telson clipping is a way of marking spiny rock lobster to make it clear that they have been recreationally caught and are not for sale. One-third of the telson is cut off so that it is noticeably shorter than the other sections of the tail fan.

From 1 July 2020, once a fisher has checked that a lobster is legal size and is not subject to any other protections (such as carrying eggs), they must immediately cut one-third off the central telson. A person must not possess any spiny rock lobster taken from within the CRA5 area if it has not had one-third of the central telson cut off.

Telson clipping can be done with a knife or scissors and is like clipping your fingernails.

Labelled diagram of a telson-clipped lobster [PDF, 551 KB]

Accumulation limit

An accumulation limit is the maximum amount of rock lobster any one person can be in possession of at any one time, even if they have been fishing on multiple days.

From 1 July 2020, each person can hold a maximum of 3 daily bag limits (18 lobsters). These lobsters must be stored and labelled in accordance with the ‘bag and tag’ conditions outlined below.

Bag and tag conditions

Bag and tag conditions provide evidence that accumulated rock lobsters were taken within the daily bag limit of 6 lobsters over 3 days or more.

From 1 July 2020, recreational fishers must hold rock lobster in a container or bag that contains only a single day’s catch, and is clearly labelled with:

  • the individual fisher’s name
  • the date the lobsters were taken
  • the number of lobsters held.

Related consultation

CRA 2 (Hauraki Gulf/Bay of Plenty) rock lobster fishery decisions

24 April 2020 – Regulation changes delayed

Regulation changes for CRA5 were delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

18 December 2019 – Changes on the fishing regulations

Any changes to the CRA5 (Canterbury/Marlborough) rock lobster fishing regulations will likely come into effect in April 2020. A full announcement of any regulation changes for rock lobster is expected in late February.

Have your say

Fisheries New Zealand sought feedback on measures proposed by the National Rock Lobster Management Group for recreational fishers in the CRA 5 (Canterbury/Marlborough) rock lobster fishery to discourage the illegal take and sale of rock lobsters.

The National Rock Lobster Management Group includes representation from customary, recreational and commercial fishing interests, and Fisheries New Zealand. The group advises the Minister of Fisheries on rock lobster management matters.

The proposed measures involved introducing telson clipping and an accumulation limit in the fishery.

The consultation ran from 22 August to 3 October 2018. 

Consultation document

Proposed measures for the CRA 5 rock lobster fishery [PDF, 889 KB]

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

Summary of proposals

map of CRA 5 Quota Management and Kaikoura Marine Management Areas
CRA5 Quota Management Area (striped) and the Kaikōura Marine Management Area (dark blue)

It was proposed to introduce these measures for rock lobster in the CRA 5 Quota Management Area:

  • Telson clipping – recreational fishers are required to clip the last third of the middle part of the tail fan (the "telson") of every legal sized rock lobster that will be kept. This marks a lobster as being recreationally caught, and so is not permitted to be bought, bartered, or traded.
  • An accumulation limit – the number of rock lobsters that a recreational fisher can accumulate is limited to 3 daily bag limits (18 lobsters), provided that the catch for any one day does not exceed the current daily limit of 6 rock lobsters per person.
  • Bag and labelling conditions for a single day's catch to support the accumulation limit.

Download an A4 map of the CRA5 Quota Management Area [PDF, 1.6 MB]



 Background to the proposed measures

rock lobster with one-third of the central telson clipped
Rock lobster with one-third of the central telson clipped

There is a higher than normal risk that poaching and black market activity will occur in the CRA 5 fishery. This is due to a combination of reasons, including:

  • easy access to the fishery because much of the CRA 5 coastline can be reached from the road
  • the fishery is experiencing high levels of stock abundance providing incentives for illegal take by opportunistic fishers.

Illegal fishing can undermine the integrity of the fisheries management regime, reduce the benefits that legitimate fishers can realise from the use of the resource, and contribute to localised depletion.

The aim is to discourage illegal activity

The proposed measures are expected to discourage illegal black market sales of rock lobsters that are destined for the domestic market. Rock lobsters are valuable barter goods and illegally caught lobsters are often sold at a lower price than through legitimate channels, which can encourage local buyers to look for illegal product.

Telson clipping is intended to stop: 

  • the illegal sale of rock lobsters by opportunistic non-commercial fishers who sell or barter their catch for financial gain
  • covert poachers who conceal their activity under legitimate non-commercial fishing.

An accumulation limit is expected to limit the ability to store and transport large quantities of rock lobster where people deliberately exceed the daily bag limit or where the bag limit is consistently taken for potential sale or barter.

Small trial has proved effective

The measures were introduced for recreational rock lobster fishing in a small portion of the CRA5 fishery, known as the Kaikōura Marine Management Area, in August 2014. They were based on initiatives put forward by the Kaikōura Marine Guardians. Telson clipping has been effective in the Kaikōura area in reducing the flow of recreationally caught rock lobsters illegally entering the commercial supply chain (such as restaurants and fish dealers).

Submissions are public information

Note, that any submission you make becomes public information. People can ask for copies of submissions under the Official Information Act 1982 (OIA). The OIA says we have to make submissions available unless we have a good reason for withholding it.  That is explained in sections 6 and 9 of the OIA.

Tell us if you think there are grounds to withhold specific information in your submission. Reasons might include that it's commercially sensitive or it's personal information. However, any decision MPI makes to withhold information can be reviewed by the Ombudsman, who may tell us to release it.