Apply for a high seas fishing permit

You need a permit to catch or transport fish on the high seas, and in the Convention Area in the Southern Ocean. Find out how to apply.

Follow the steps

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Step 1 What you need to know
Before you apply, become familiar with the requirements.

What the process covers

This process is for operators of New Zealand vessels wanting permission to fish on the high seas. The high seas are areas of ocean not covered by any country's exclusive economic zone (EEZ). 

Processes for fishing in New Zealand waters (the New Zealand EEZ) are elsewhere on this website:

What you need to know

To get a high seas fishing permit you'll need to:

  • have a FishServe client number
  • have registered your vessel as a New Zealand ship
  • have your vessel on the Fishing Vessel Register
  • carry and operate a registered automatic location communicator (ALC) on your vessel that meets required standards
  • complete a high seas fishing permit application online or manually.

Getting a high seas fishing permit is free. But other agencies may charge for related costs like registration.

Before you apply

Before you can get a permit, you'll need a FishServe client number and your vessel must be registered as a:

  • New Zealand ship
  • fishing vessel in the Fishing Vessel Register.

Your high seas fishing permit application won't be processed unless your vessel has both registrations – each involves a separate process.

ALC requirements

To get a high seas fishing permit, you'll also need to carry and operate a registered Automatic Location Communicator (ALC) on your vessel. This allows MPI to monitor your vessel's location and movements. You can apply to register an ALC at the same time you apply for a high seas fishing permit.

Apply to register your ALC:

If the ALC hasn't been registered before, you'll need to submit a supplier declaration form with your ALC application (completed by the ALC supplier) so we can check it meets ALC standards.

Send your application to FishServe with the appropriate fee.

Step 2 What you need to do

How to complete a high seas fishing permit application.

You can complete the application through FishServe either:

To complete the application, you'll need to provide information about:

  • yourself (as the vessel operator)
  • the vessel you want a permit for (including photos)
  • where you want to fish
  • the species you want to catch in each area 
  • the fishing methods you plan to use in each area 
  • your fishing history.

Give details of your high seas fishing activities

On the application form list the areas where you plan to fish for each species. Areas you can apply for (that New Zealand is a party to), area codes, links to maps (if available), and stock managed are in this table.

Fisheries New Zealand is a party to
Area nameArea codeStock managed
Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources Convention Area CCAMLR Antarctic marine living resources
Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna Convention Area CCSBT Southern bluefin tuna in all areas where they occur.
South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organisation Convention Area SPRFMO

All fisheries resources except:

  • highly migratory species
  • anadromous and catadromous species (such as eels, salmon)
  • marine mammals, reptiles and seabirds.
Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission Convention Area WCPFC Highly migratory species

Fishing methods and target species

You must list on the application form the fishing methods you plan to use in each area and the target species codes.

If there isn't a code for the species, provide its common name and scientific name (family, genus and species).

Answer questions about your fishing history

You'll need to provide details of any previous:

  • suspension or loss of a high seas fishing permit
  • breaches of fisheries laws (including on the high seas)
  • fishing on the high seas without a high seas fishing permit.

MPI will consider this information when deciding whether to issue you with a permit.

Check for extra requirements

Some areas and stocks that are managed under regional arrangements have additional requirements.

If you plan to fish in the:

Submit your completed application

Submit your application online or post to FishServe.

Make sure you include:

  • the required documents listed on the application form
  • any extra requirements for the area you plan to fish in. 

Allow 20 working days for your application to be processed.

Step 3 Getting your permit
What to expect.

If you get approval, FishServe will:

  • issue you with a high seas fishing permit with the conditions you need to meet
  • place your permit details on the public high seas fishing permit register.

Check your permit thoroughly to make sure you understand the permit conditions – these can change from year to year.

New Zealanders on foreign vessels

New Zealand nationals can't use a foreign-registered vessel to fish on the high seas unless they are authorised to do so by the country the vessel is flagged to. That country must be a party to:

  • the United Nations Fish Stocks Agreement 
  • the FAO Agreement to Promote Compliance with International Conservation and Management Measures by Fishing Vessels on the High Seas
  • a relevant global, regional or sub-regional fisheries organisation or arrangement.

A New Zealand national is a New Zealand citizen, resident or body corporate.

Who to contact

If you have questions about:

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