Commercial fishing vessel registration

To commercially fish in New Zealand waters, vessels must be registered as a New Zealand ship (flagged to New Zealand) and be on the Fishing Vessel Register. Find out about the registration requirements and how to apply.

What you need to do

To fish in New Zealand waters, you must register your commercial fishing vessel:

Your vessel must be registered on the Fishing Vessel Register if you use it to take fish, seaweed, or other aquatic life from New Zealand waters to sell. This applies to all New Zealand registered vessels – domestic and foreign-owned.

Note: Foreign-registered vessels aren't allowed to fish in New Zealand waters.

Register as a New Zealand ship

The Maritime New Zealand website has information and instructions for registering your vessel in New Zealand.

Register on the Fishing Vessel Register

FishServe manages the Fishing Vessel Register on our behalf. To apply for vessel registration, first you'll need a FishServe client number.

Get a FishServe client number

If you don't already have a client number:

Update your FishServe details

If you already have a client number, and you need to update your details:

Apply to register on the Fishing Vessel Register

You can apply to register your vessel:

  • online – if you've registered for Online Services
  • by completing the appropriate application form.

FishServe has different forms, depending on the size of the vessel and whether the vessel is foreign-owned.

What to expect after registration

Once your vessel is registered, FishServe will give you a certificate of registration. This will show your vessel’s registration number and details will be placed on the public Fishing Vessel Register.

Registration of foreign-owned vessels

Before a foreign-owned vessel that is flagged to New Zealand can be registered as a fishing vessel, we check for:

  • previous fisheries offences by anyone involved with the vessel
  • any issues with fisheries management, vessel safety, and employment
  • compliance with maritime rules around pollution and discharge of waste material.

Why your vessel must be flagged to New Zealand

Reflagging ensures that all vessels operating in our waters have to follow New Zealand laws around fisheries, maritime safety, and employment.

The requirement that foreign-owned vessels must be flagged to New Zealand was introduced in May 2016, following a ministerial inquiry into foreign charter vessels. The reflagging rules involve:

  • Fisheries New Zealand
  • the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment
  • Immigration New Zealand
  • Maritime New Zealand.

Find out more

Who to contact

If you have questions about registering your vessel as a New Zealand ship, contact Maritime New Zealand:

If you have questions about registering your vessel on the Fishing Vessel Register, contact FishServe:

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