Commercial fishing annual catch entitlement (ACE)

Annual catch entitlement (ACE) is the right to catch a certain amount of a fish stock during a fishing year. Find out about ACE, how to transfer it, and what happens if you catch more or less than your entitlement.

About annual catch entitlement (ACE)

Commercial fishers need ACE to catch fish. If you're a fisher and own quota shares, you'll get an amount of ACE at the start of each fishing year.

This determines how much of a fish stock you can catch during the fishing year. The amount of ACE you get depends on:

  • how much of the total fishing quota you own
  • how much of a fish stock we allow fishers to catch each year (the 'total allowable catch').

Fish species under the Quota Management System (QMS) are divided into fish stocks (by species and area).

Each fish stock has 100 million quota shares. 

How to get quota shares – FishServe

Buy, sell, or transfer ACE

You can buy, sell, or transfer ACE to other people at any time in the fishing year. The fishing year for most stocks ends on 30 September.

ACE transfers are managed through the FishServe website.

Transferring ACE – FishServe

You must balance all catch of QMS species with ACE by the end of a fishing year. So make sure you keep enough ACE until then to balance your catch.

You can also bid for Crown-held ACE when tendered through FishServe at the start of each fishing year.

Find out about Crown quota and ACE tenders

Minimum ACE needed to catch some fish stocks

For some fish stocks, you need a minimum holding of ACE to catch them. If you don't have enough, you can't fish for that stock.

This table shows the stocks you need a minimum holding of ACE for.



Minimum ACE holding

CRA1 to CRA10

Rock lobster

3 tonnes


Oyster (Nelson)

3 tonnes


Dredge oysters (Foveaux Strait)

29,000 oysters

PAU1, 2, 3, 4, 5A, 5B, 5D, 6A, 7, 10


1 tonne



100 kg



3 tonnes

Minimum ACE holdings – New Zealand Legislation

If you catch less than your ACE

For most stocks, if you don't catch your full ACE amount during the fishing year, a certain amount of it will get re-issued to you the next fishing year. This is called an 'underfishing allocation'.

You will get whichever is the lesser amount of either:

  • the amount of ACE not used, or
  • 10% of your ACE holdings.

Stocks not eligible for underfishing ACE





LFE11 to LFE 17

Long-finned eel


Dredge oyster (except Foveaux Strait)


Dredge oyster (Foveaux Strait)


Packhorse rock lobster




Queen scallop



SFE11 to SFE17

Short-finned freshwater eel

If you catch more than your ACE

FishServe will send you an invoice for the extra catch if you:

  • catch more than your full ACE amount, and
  • don’t buy more ACE to cover your overfishing.

The charge that you have to pay for extra catch (overfishing) is known as a 'deemed value'.

ACE registers

FishServe has a register of ACE owners. Information in the register is available to the public through register reports. Fees apply for reports.

Get an ACE register report

Find the fee for an ACE register report

Who to contact

If you have questions about ACE, contact FishServe

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