Transferring and releasing freshwater species

How to apply to move or release freshwater species in New Zealand waters.

Approval process depends on species and location

The approval process for moving or releasing a freshwater species, depends on whether it already occurs in the new location.

Find out about:

Once you get approval, you also need to make sure any movements won't spread aquatic pests and diseases.

Moving marine species

The process on this page covers freshwater species. If you want to move or release marine species to the marine environment, contact us on

Releasing freshwater species in a new area

You need to apply to the Department of Conservation (DOC) before moving freshwater species to a location where they don't already occur. This includes stocking a species at a freshwater fish farm for the first time.

The process for approvals and application forms are on the DOC website.

Releasing freshwater species where they already occur

You need to apply to Fisheries New Zealand before moving freshwater species to a location where they already occur.

Applications usually take around 4 weeks to process, depending on your proposed activities. Make sure you consider this timeframe when planning to move any species.

You don’t have to apply if the release is:

If you have a special permit and want to find out if you can release without needing another approval, email

Apply for approval from Fisheries New Zealand

Download and complete an application form. Provide as much information as possible to help us assess your application and to get a faster approval.

Send your completed application to

There is no charge for approvals granted by Fisheries New Zealand.

Approval for multiple species movements

If you plan to do multiple movements or releases within the same stream or catchment, you may be able to get a generic approval to cover them all. This could save you from having to do multiple applications. Find out if a generic approval may be appropriate by emailing us at

Include in your email:

  • what species you are likely to move
  • the number of individuals you are likely to move
  • whether the capture and release sites are in the same waterbody, catchment, or floodplain, or whether they are connected
  • any assessment of pest and disease risk and what measures are in place to reduce this risk
  • whether the genetics of the species are likely to be different at the capture and release sites
  • the purpose of the movement and release.

If we confirm that a generic approval is appropriate, you'll still need to complete the Application for approval to move and release aquatic life form.

What happens next

Depending on the information you provide, we'll let you know how long it's likely to take to process your application and any specific conditions that might apply to your approval.

We'll consult with DOC and, where appropriate, the local iwi.

Approval and conditions

We'll email you to let you know the outcome of your application.

If you get approval, you'll be able to move or release the specified species. You'll need to follow any conditions on the approval.

You may have to contact the local Fisheries New Zealand office before releasing the species. Fisheries New Zealand and the Department of Conservation may require their staff to be present at the release site during the movement or release.

Conditions for moving grass and silver carp

All movements and releases of grass carp and silver carp have specific requirements to reduce the risk of spreading non-native zooplankton. These requirements are provided in the Standard for Managing Exotic Hitchhiker Copepods When Moving, Transferring or Releasing Grass Carp and Silver Carp.

Special permits

You may require a special permit to take aquatic species if your activities would not comply with fisheries regulations. For example, you may want to:

  • use prohibited methods to catch the species, or
  • collect in areas closed to fishing.

To find out if you need a special permit, email Fisheries New Zealand at

Stop the spread of pests and diseases

Whenever you move aquatic species, make sure you follow best biosecurity practices to reduce the risk of spreading pests and diseases. Pests and diseases could affect the species you are moving or the environment they are going into.

Who to contact

If you have questions about moving or releasing aquatic species, email us at

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