Ways to manage customary fisheries
Tangata whenua (people of the land with authority in a particular place) manage their fisheries under:
- customary fishing regulations
- the Fisheries Act 1996.
They can do this in a way that best fits their local practices.
There are several ways to manage customary fisheries.
- Mātaitai reserves – recognise and provide for traditional fishing through local management. They allow customary and recreational fishing but usually do not allow commercial fishing.
- Taiāpure (local fisheries) – estuarine or coastal areas that are significant for food, spiritual, or cultural reasons. They allow all types of fishing and are managed by local communities.
- Temporary closures and restrictions on fishing methods (Sections 186A and 186B closures) – areas that are temporarily closed to fishing or certain fishing methods.
- Fisheries bylaws – changes to fisheries management rules made by tangata whenua or tangata kaitiaki/tiaki (guardians) for their Crown settlement area or mātaitai reserve.
Mātaitai reserves are developed and managed by tangata whenua. They recognise and provide for:
- the special relationship between tangata whenua and their traditional fishing grounds
- non-commercial customary fishing.
Mātaitai reserves allow:
- customary fishing
- recreational fishing without needing a permit.
Mātaitai reserves do not:
- allow commercial fishing (unless reinstated by a regulation)
- allow landing of commercial catch or holding pots
- affect commercial fishing vessel activities like transiting and mooring
- affect recreational fishing rules unless there are bylaws in place
- control whitebait fishing
- affect access to beaches and rivers
- change restrictions on access to private land.
Mātaitai reserves may have bylaws
Some mātaitai reserves have bylaws that tangata kaitiaki/tiaki (guardians) use to manage non-commercial fishing. Bylaws apply to all people fishing in a mātaitai reserve.
Role of tangata kaitiaki/tiaki
The tangata kaitiaki/tiaki appointed to a mātaitai reserve can:
- issue customary fishing authorisations to allow customary food gathering – not just for hui and tangi
- recommend changes to the recreational and customary fishing rules in the reserve — these may become bylaws
- recommend reinstatement of limited commercial fishing.
Recommendations for bylaws (for recreational fishing) and regulations (for commercial fishing) are consulted on with the public and relevant stakeholders. They need to be approved by the Minister of Oceans and Fisheries.
Establishing a mātaitai reserve
Tangata whenua or the tangata kaitiaki/tiaki of a rohe moana may apply for a mātaitai reserve.
Before you apply, contact us to find out more about the different management tools. Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Approval criteria for new mātaitai reserves
The approval criteria is different for the South Island. Proposed reserves require consultation with the local community and those with a fishing interest in the area.