International fisheries

We represent New Zealand in international fisheries management. Find out about our role, what we do, and how to access international fisheries.

About international fisheries

International fisheries include:

  • fishing areas on the high seas – beyond any country's exclusive economic zone (EEZ)
  • fishing areas in another country's waters (in their EEZ)
  • highly migratory fish species (fish that move between the New Zealand EEZ and the high seas).

A country's EEZ extends 200 nautical miles from its coastline.

Our role

New Zealand has one of the largest EEZs in the world, and fishes in several international fisheries. We want to make sure international fisheries are well managed.

Fisheries New Zealand aims to get the most economic and other benefits for New Zealand from international fisheries while:

  • managing the effects of fishing on the environment
  • ensuring that the fishing is sustainable
  • meeting international obligations.

We do this by:

  • developing international and regional frameworks, standards, and rules to support:
    • sustainable use of fisheries
    • protection of the marine environment
  • building bilateral and regional fisheries relationships
  • supporting trade and access to overseas markets
  • working together to manage fisheries in other countries, especially Pacific island countries.

Find out more about our work with Pacific island countries

International treaties for sustainable fisheries

New Zealand has signed international treaties that manage international fisheries. These include:

International fisheries agreements

New Zealand has signed international agreements to manage specific international fisheries or areas of the ocean. These agreements are managed through Regional Fisheries Management Organisations (RFMOs). 

New Zealand is a member of 4 RFMOs:

Each year we meet with other members of these RFMOs to discuss:

  • access to fisheries for New Zealand vessels
  • fishery conservation and management measures.

When measures are agreed on, we add them to New Zealand fishing laws.

Access to international fisheries

Commercial New Zealand fishers can access some international fisheries by applying for a high seas fishing permit. Under the permit, fishers have obligations and reporting requirements when fishing in international waters.  

Find out how to get a high seas fishing permit

Find out about international fisheries reporting requirements

A high seas fishing permit doesn't give access to all international fisheries.

Find out about accessing high seas fisheries under regional arrangements

Our work with Pacific island countries

We work with Pacific island countries, along with Pacific organisations, to help them sustainably get the most from their fisheries resources. Organisations include:

We also have a Pacific fisheries capacity development programme. Through this programme, we work with Pacific island countries to:

  • increase the economic benefits from their fisheries
  • ensure fish stocks are managed at sustainable levels.

Find out more about Te Pātuitanga Ahumoana a Kiwa (Partnerships in Pacific Fisheries)

Who to contact

If you have questions about international fisheries, email

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