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:
- approval to move species to a new area
- approval to move species to where they already occur
- rules for moving freshwater species under section 26ZM of the Conservation Act 1987 – NZ Legislation website
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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 email@example.com
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.
- Application for approval to move and release aquatic life [PDF, 277 KB]
- Application for approval to move and release aquatic life [DOCX, 75 KB]
Send your completed application to firstname.lastname@example.org
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 email@example.com
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
- Learn about biosecurity practices and download our guidance for fish farmers
- Managing freshwater pests and diseases
Who to contact
If you have questions about moving or releasing aquatic species, email us at email@example.com