Requirements for NZ commercial fishers

New Zealand fishers must meet a number of requirements to fish commercially in New Zealand waters, and on the high seas. Find out what you need to do.

Requirements for fishing in New Zealand waters

To fish commercially in New Zealand waters you must:

These are legal requirements that you must follow. If you don't, you could be prosecuted. The requirements come from the Quota Management System (QMS), and the Fisheries Act 1996.

Quota Management System (QMS)

Fisheries Act 1996 and related legislation — FishServe

Processing fish at sea 

If you're a commercial fisher and process fish at sea, you need to:

  • understand "conversion factors" (for converting processed weight of fish to unprocessed weight)
  • use unprocessed weight (greenweight) when completing QMS landing returns
  • understand the food safety and animal welfare requirements.

Conversion factors for commercial fishing

Rock lobster and other crustacean welfare

Seafood processing, storage, and testing

Check restricted fishing areas

Commercial fishing is restricted (banned) in some areas of New Zealand's ocean. To check where fishing is restricted, use our online mapping tool.

Requirements for fishing on the high seas

The high seas (international waters) are areas of the ocean that aren't a part of any country's exclusive economic zone (EEZ). To fish commercially on the high seas, you need a high seas fishing permit.

High seas fishing permits

You might also need to meet some other requirements.

Find out about accessing to fisheries under regional arrangements

MPI and FishServe – who does what?

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) monitors, manages, and regulates fisheries:

  • in New Zealand
  • on the high seas (under international arrangements).

We manage New Zealand fisheries and fish stocks under the QMS.

FishServe provides administrative services for the fishing industry, the Crown, and MPI. Services they administer include:

  • fishing permits
  • fishing returns
  • registration of fishing vessels
  • Crown-held ACE and quota tenders, ACE and quota transfers
  • invoicing and receiving fees and charges.

Who to contact

If you have questions about commercial fishing requirements, email

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