Central area fishing rules

Recreational fishing rules for the Central area, including closed areas, special restrictions, and other important notices.

About the Central fishing area

Central fishing area map

This area covers the lower half of the North Island.

This page has the rules for:

  • size limits
  • catch/bag limits (how many fish or shellfish you can take each day)
  • closed areas (where you cannot fish)
  • special restrictions
  • all types of recreational fishing, including potting, netting, and all other fishing methods.

Remember, if you're a recreational fisher, selling any fish or shellfish you catch is illegal.


UPDATES

Minister's decision on temporary closure of Waimārama

From 23 December 2020 to 22 December 2022, there is a ban on collecting blackfoot pāua from the coastline to the north and south of Waimarama. This includes the area around Te Motu o Kura / Bare Island.

This ban supports the rāhui, put in place by Ngāi Hapū o Waimārama. Make sure you are up-to-date with the rules. To learn more about the changes, see the "closed areas and special restrictions" section on this page.

Netting restrictions

On 1 October 2020, new fishing rules were introduced to help protect Hector's and Māui dolphins.

  • Set nets are banned in several areas of the country.
  • The trawl prohibition within the central Māui dolphin habitat zone is extended.
  • Drift netting is banned everywhere in New Zealand.

Blue cod size limit

On 1 July 2020, the minimum catch size of blue cod was standardised to 33cm across most areas. A "traffic light system" is used to indicate the daily bag limit for different areas.

How to check the rules

You can find a summary of the size and catch limits, closed areas, and special restrictions further down this page.

Size limits, catch/bag limits, closed areas, and special restrictions

You can also use the free NZ Fishing Rules app, check rules in our brochures, or text us. You'll also see signs about rules at many fishing spots.

Download the free NZ Fishing Rules app

Mac App Store for Apple devices

Google Play for android devices

Or free text "app" to 9889 to be sent the links to your phone. After you install it, the app will work without an internet connection.

Get a brochure

Download the rules brochure [PDF, 1.5 MB]

Visit a Fisheries New Zealand office

Use our free text service

Send a free text to 9889 with the name of a species.

For example, text "blue cod" or "pāua" to 9889. You'll receive a text with legal bag and size limits for that species.

Size limits, catch limits, closed areas, and special restrictions

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Finfish – size limits and catch/bag limits

Size limits and catch limits for finfish.

Download the rules for popular finfish brochure [PDF, 1.5 MB]

In the Central area, for fish in Table 1, there is a combined daily limit of 20, per fisher. This means that you can have a combination of up to 20 of any of these fish in total. However, fish with "no limit" do not count towards your combined daily limit of 20. For example, you could have 19 kahawai and 1 red cod, or 10 kahawai and 10 red cod. As long as you have no more than 20 in total. Then, after you reach your limit of 20 fish, you could still have 10 herring or pilchards.

For fish in Table 2, you can have these in addition to the maximum of 20 fish from Table 1. For example, you could take 10 kahawai, 10 red cod, and 6 eels.

There is no limit for species not listed in either Table 1 or 2.

Remember, there may be other specific rules in some areas. For example, a harbour might have different size limits for certain species. Check the "Closed areas and special restrictions" section on this page for more information.

Table 1: Combined bag

Finfish Species

Min fish length (cm)

Max daily limit per fisher

Min set net mesh size (mm)

Blue Cod, Taranaki to Titahi Bay

Blue cod rules from 1 July 2020

33

10

100

Blue Cod, Titahi Bay South

Blue cod rules from 1 July 2020

33

20

100

Blue Moki

40

20

114

Bluenose

5

160

Butterfish

35

20

108

Elephant fish

20

150

Flatfish (except Sand flounder)

25

20

100

Garfish (piper)

No limit

25

Herrings

No limit

25

John Dory

20

100

Kahawai

20

100

Grey Mullet

20

100

Parore

20

100

Pilchard

No limit

25

Porae

20

100

Red Cod

25

20

100

Red gurnard

25

20

100

Red moki

40

20

115

Red snapper

20

100

Rig

20

150

Sand flounder

23

20

100

School shark

20

150

Tarakihi

25

20

100

Trevally

25

20

100

Trumpeter

35

No limit

100

Yellow-eyed mullet

No limit

25

All others

No limit

100

 

Table 2: Additional to combined bag

Finfish Species

Min fish length (cm)

Max daily limit per fisher

Min set net mesh size (mm)

Freshwater eels

6

12 (Fyke net)

Groper/Hapuku/Bass

Daily bag limit of 5 with no more than 3 kingfish

160

Kingfish

75

3

100

Snapper

27

10

100

 

Shellfish – size limits and catch/bag limits

A summary of the shellfish daily bag and size limits.

Shellfish are considered "taken" (collected or harvested) when they cannot freely return to the water. For example, when you put them in a bag. When you're gathering or collecting, you can never possess more than your daily limit.

Remember, there may be other specific rules in some areas. For example, a harbour might have different size limits for certain species. Check the 'Closed areas and restrictions' section on this page for more information.

Shellfish Species

Max daily limit per fisher

Min size (mm)

Cockles

150

none

Kina (sea eggs)

50

none

Mussels

50

none

Oysters
– Dredge*
– Rock & Pacific†


50
250


58
none

Pāua
– Ordinary*
– Yellow foot*
– Taranaki Pāua Area


10
10
10


125
80
85

Pipi

150

none

Scallops+
(Season: 15 Jul to 14 Feb)

20

100

Toheroa#

Prohibited

Prohibited

Tuatua

150

none

All others (combined) •

50

none

* Dredge oyster, pāua, and scallops must be landed in the shell. They cannot be shucked or shelled seaward of the mean high watermark. However, you can shuck dredge oysters and scallops that you are going to eat while you're still at sea. These still count towards your daily catch/bag limit.

† Rock and Pacific oysters must not be opened while they're still attached to the object they're growing on (like if they're still stuck to a rock).

# Toheroa must not be taken, processed, or disturbed. This is always the case unless we declare an open season.

View the difference between toheroa and tuatua [PDF, 297 KB] 

 Limited provision allows a diver on a vessel to gather extra bag limits of oysters and scallops for up to 2 other people acting in a dive safety capacity from that vessel. The safety people must be on-board the vessel, and acting in that capacity, when the diving is done. If only 1 safety person is on-board the vessel, only 1 extra bag limit may be taken. A maximum of 2 extra bag limits may be taken per vessel, regardless of the number of people diving.

• This is a combined, mixed-species bag limit. It applies to all shellfish species not specifically named above, and includes all crabs, limpets, starfish, periwinkles, whelks, barnacles and freshwater crayfish (koura).

Rock lobster/Crayfish rules

A summary of the rock lobster/crayfish daily size limits and catch/bag limits.

This section has the rules for both:

  • spiny rock lobster
  • packhorse lobster.

Remember, there may be other specific rules in some areas. Check the "Closed areas and special restrictions" section on this page for more information.

Daily bag limits

Maximum of 6 rock lobster (both species combined) per day.

Bay of Plenty, from Cape Runaway to East Cape Lighthouse

A total of 3 spiny rock lobsters can be taken within the combined limit. Up to 3 spiny rock lobsters can be taken, and the remainder (up to 6 in total) can be packhorse rock lobster. If no spiny rock lobsters are taken at the same time, 6 packhorse lobsters can be taken.

[Between these 2 locations, the catch/bag limit is different. You can take a total of 3 spiny rock lobster and 3 packhorse rock lobster. If you do not take any spiny rock lobster, then you can take a total of 6 packhorse lobster.]

Spiny rock lobster minimum size

Measure the tail width in a straight line, between the tips of the two large (primary) spines on the second segment of the tail.

  • The minimum measurement for males is 54mm.
  • The minimum measurement for females is 60mm.
  • If you're not sure what sex the lobster is, use the 60mm measurement.

Packhorse lobster minimum size

Measure the tail length along the underside in a straight line from the rear of the calcified bar on the first segment to the tip of the middle fan of the tail. Must have a tail length of at least 216mm (male and female).

Other rules and protections

There are rules for gathering rock lobster/crayfish that cover:

  • protected types
  • banned gathering methods
  • pot construction and use.
Protected types

You cannot take:

  • female rock lobster “in berry” carrying external eggs
  • soft shell stage rock lobster (rock lobster that has shed its skin)
  • unmeasurable rock lobster (like if its tail is damaged)
  • undersized rock lobster.
Banned gathering methods
  • You cannot possess rock lobster seaward of the high watermark in an unmeasurable state.
  • No spring-loaded loops or lassos – hand operated only.
  • No spears or puncturing devices – it is an offence to possess a speared rock lobster.
  • Do not remove external eggs from any rock lobster.
  • No baited nets.
  • Maximum of 3 rock lobster pots per fisher.
  • Maximum of 6 rock lobster pots from a vessel for 2 or more fishers.

Find out about rock lobster pot construction and use

Telson (tail fan) clipping for rock lobsters from Cape Runaway to East Cape Lighthouse

In eastern Bay of Plenty (from Cape Runaway to East Cape Lighthouse), telson clipping is required for all spiny rock lobsters that you take.

The last third of the telson (central part of the tail fan) must be cut off so that it is noticeably shorter than the other sections of the tail fan.

Labelled diagram of a telson-clipped lobster [PDF, 551 KB]

Do not telson clip any packhorse rock lobsters.

For more details check the:

Video: Telson clipping your crayfish (2.25)


Closed areas and special restrictions

The lists below show areas where:

  • fishing is not allowed (closed areas)
  • size limits and catch limits might be different (special restrictions).

There's more information in the rules brochure and NZ Fishing Rules app.

Closed areas

You can't fish in these areas. This includes Marine Reserves.

  • Kāpiti Marine Reserve (Eastern and Western)
  • Tapuae Marine Reserve
  • Taputeranga Marine Reserve
  • Te Angiangi Marine Reserve
  • Te Tapuwae o Rongokako Marine Reserve
  • Parininihi Marine Reserve

Marine reserves are managed by the Department of Conservation (DOC).

A to Z of marine reserves – DOC

Restricted areas

In the following areas, there are specific rules or restrictions. These might be for size limits, catch/bag limits, or fishing methods (like no set netting). Check the location and the rule.

Location

Rule

Pukerua Bay

Only hand-held lines to be used

Taranaki

No set netting; different size limit for pāua

Cape Runaway

No set netting

Pāuatahanui Inlet

No set netting

Wairoa Hard

No netting of any kind

Sugar Loaf Island Marine Protected Area

No netting or longlines/Kontiki

Waimarama [PDF, 6.5 MB]

No taking of blackfoot pāua

Learn more about the Pukerua Bay closure [PDF, 3.6 MB]

Set netting restrictions

Net restrictions extend around Taranaki from Pariokariwa Point south to Hawera, then from Pariokariwa Point south to the Waiwhakaiho River between 2 and 7 nautical miles offshore. The closure out to 7 nautical miles extends north to Maunganui Bluff. Restrictions also extend for 4 nautical miles offshore from Hawera south to the Wellington Harbour entrance.

r200216 Rec SN Closure Comms Maps Central Update 23092020
r200216 Rec SN Closure Comms Maps Central Update 23092020

Find out about the new restrictions

Mātaitai reserves

These are areas where tangata whenua manage non-commercial fishing through bylaws. Information is in the NZ Gazette.

Toka Tāmure – Mahia Peninsula:

Blue cod restrictions

Blue cod...

Rule

Pot construction

Rigid square mesh, where:

  • the squares in the mesh must be at least 54mm by 54mm
  • the mesh should be strong, and not easily bent or reshaped.

Accumulation limit

When your fishing trip is more than one day, if you can prove you have not taken more than the daily bag limit on any given day you can possess 2 daily bag limits of blue cod.

Measurable state

All blue cod must be landed whole or gutted.

Eating blue cod on the boat

  • You can eat the blue cod on the fishing boat it was caught on, but you have to eat it as soon as you fillet it.
  • Any blue cod that you eat still counts towards your daily catch/bag limit.

Shellfish food safety warnings

We issue warnings not to collect shellfish when testing shows that they contain unsafe levels of toxins.

Report poaching

You can report poaching, suspicious, or illegal activity online.

Report illegal fishing (such as poaching)

You can also:

You can help us by providing:

  • the location
  • vehicle/trailer registration number
  • boat name
  • description of the person.

When reporting any suspected poaching, put your personal safety first. All calls and personal details are treated as confidential.

It is illegal to buy, sell, or swap recreationally caught seafood

These are offences against the Fisheries Act 1996, which can result in fines up to $250,000.

Follow us on Facebook

Our regional Facebook pages bring you information about the fishing rules and how we manage and protect local fisheries:

Find out more

Fisheries (Amateur Fishing) Regulations 2013 – NZ Legislation

Who to contact

If you have questions about Central area fishing rules, email info@mpi.govt.nz

Last reviewed: