Fiordland area fishing rules

Recreational fishing rules for the Fiordland area, including closures, restrictions, and other important notices.

What you need to know

Map of Fiordland fishing area

 

This area (Te Moana o Atawhenua), covers the Fiordland coastal marine area out to 12 nautical miles from Awarua Point to Sandhill Point, excluding the area around the Solander Islands.

All recreational fishing – including potting, netting and all other fishing methods – is covered by rules.

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


 

UPDATES

New netting restrictions

From 1 October 2020, new fishing measures are in place to support the threat management plan for Hector's and Māui dolphins. The use of recreational and commercial set nets is prohibited in a number of areas across the country, and the trawl prohibition within the central Māui dolphin habitat zone has been extended. Drift netting is prohibited in all New Zealand waters.

Make sure you are up to date. To learn more about the changes see the "closures and restrictions" section below, or download the rules brochure.

New blue cod rules

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

Make sure you are up to date. To learn more about the changes see the "closures and restrictions" section below, or download the rules brochure.

Ways to check the rules

This page has a summary of:

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

Get a brochure

Other languages

Download the free NZ Fishing Rules app

Or free text "app" to 9889 to be sent the links to your phone. Once installed, the app will work without an internet connection.

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 be sent legal bag and size limits for that species by return text.

 Limits, closures, and restrictions

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Finfish bag and size limits

A summary of the finfish daily bag and size limits.

In the Fiordland area there is a combined daily bag limit of 30 finfish, consisting of any combination of the species listed on the following table. Individual species limits must not be exceeded.

Accumulation of finfish beyond the daily limit is prohibited. Possession of fish above species limit or combined maximum daily bag limit is unlawful.

There is no limit on finfish species not listed below.

Remember there may be bag and size limit restrictions for finfish within some areas. Check the closures and restrictions section for more information.

Finfish species Min fish length (cm) Max daily limit per fisher
Barracouta - 30

Blue cod – internal waters (excluding Doubtful, Thompson, and Bradshaw Sounds)

Blue cod rules changed on 1 July 2020

33 3

Blue cod – Doubtful, Thompson, Bradshaw Sounds internal waters

Blue cod rules changed on 1 July 2020

33 1

Blue cod – Outside internal waters of Fiordland

Blue cod rules changed on 1 July 2020

33 10
Blue moki 40 15
Bluenose - 5
Blue shark - 1
Bronze shark - 1
Butterfish/greenbone 35 15
Eels - 6
Elephant fish - 5
Flatfish 25 (except sand flounder which is 23) 30
Grey mullet - 30
Groper/hapuku/bass – internal waters sub-limit - 3
Groper/hapuku/bass – other areas (inlcudes the limit of 3 from internal waters) - 5
Hammerhead shark - 1
Kahawai - 15
Kingfish 75 3
Lamprey - 30
Ling - 30
Mako shark - 1
Marblefish - 30
Marlin - 1
Porbeagle shark - 1
Quinnat salmon - 2
Red cod 25 10
Red gurnard 25 30
Red moki 40 15
Rig - 5
School shark - 5
Sea perch/Jock Stewart - 10
Seven gilled shark - 1
Skate ray - 5
Snapper 25 30
Spiny dogfish - 15
Stargazer - 30
Tarakihi 25 15
Thresher shark - 1
Trevally 25 30
Trumpeter 35 15
Warehou - 15
Wrasse - 30
Shellfish bag and size limits
A summary of the shellfish daily bag and size limits.

Shellfish are take when they cannot freely return to the water e.g. placed into a catch bag or similar. At no time while gathering may you be in possession of more than your daily limit.

Remember there may be bag and size limit restrictions for shellfish within some areas. Check the closures and restrictions section for more information.

Shellfish Species Max daily limit per fisher Min size (mm)
Cockle 150 none
Kina (sea eggs) 50 none
Mussels 25 none
Oysters
– Dredge
(Season: 1 Mar to 31 Aug)

50

58
Paua
– Ordinary black foot*
– Yellow foot*

10
10

125
80
Pipi 150 none
Scallops *
(Season: 1 Oct to 15 Mar)
10 100
Tuatua 150 none
All others (combined) • 50 none

* No accumulation of paua or scallop daily limits within the Fiordland Marine Area.

† A diver or divers on a vessel may gather an additional bag limit of oysters or scallops for up to two people acting in a dive safety capacity on the vessel.

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

Rock lobster/Crayfish

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

Remember there may be bag and size limit restrictions for rock lobster within some areas. Check the closures and restrictions section for more information.

Daily bag limits

Maximum of 6 rock lobster (both species combined) on any one day.

Maximum of 3 taken from within the Milford Sound internal waters of Fiordland.

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. If you are unsure of the sex, 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).

Accumulation Limit

Accumulation means having in your possession fish/shellfish caught/gathered over more than one day. In Fiordland there is a 3-day accumulation limit of 15 rock lobster, no more than 3 may be taken from the Milford Sound internal waters of Fiordland.

Additional rules and protections

There are rules and protections for gathering rock lobster/crayfish that cover: protected types, gathering methods, pot construction and use. For more details check the:

Closures and restrictions

A summary of areas where catch limits and sizes may be different. More information is in the rules brochure.

Blue cod restrictions

Minimum pot mesh size: 54 mm. Blue cod pots must use rigid square mesh with a minimum inside dimension of 54mm.

It is prohibited to use or set any blue cod pot within the internal waters of Fiordland.

Accumulation limit: Within the Fiordland (Te Moana o Atawhenua) Marine Area, no accumulation applies for blue cod possession beyond one day's limit. Within the wider South West blue cod management area (excluding the Fiordland Marine Area), when fishing over two or more days, with proof you can possess a maximum of 2 times the daily bag limit for blue cod.

Measurable state: Within the South West blue cod management area (Sand Hill Point to South Bank of Haast River), all blue cod must be landed whole or gutted.

Fishers may possess blue cod in another processed state if it is immediately eaten on board the fishing vessel from which it was taken. Any fish eaten, form part of the daily limit.

Closed areas

No fishing is allowed, this includes Marine Reserves.

  • Milford Sound internal waters – closed to blue cod fishing
  • Piopiotahi (Milford Sound) Marine Reserve
  • Te Hapua (Sutherland Sound) Marine Reserve
  • Hawea (Clio Rocks) Marine Reserve (Bligh Sound)
  • Kahukura (Gold Arm) Marine Reserve (Charles Sound)
  • Katu Parera (Gaer Arm) Marine Reserve (Bradshaw Sound)
  • Te Awaatu Channel (The Gut) Marine Reserve (Doubtful Sound)
  • Taipari Roa (Elizabeth Island) Marine Reserve (Doubtful Sound)
  • Moana Uta (Wet Jacket Arm) Marine Reserve (Acheron Passage)
  • Taumoana (Five Fingers Peninsula) Marine Reserve (Dusky Sound)
  • Te Tapuwae o Hua (Long Sound) Marine Reserve (Preservation Inlet)

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

Restricted areas

Particular fishing methods are banned or catch/bag limits for particular species are different.

  • Pendulo Reach (Doubtful Sound) – use of rock lobster pots and holding pots prohibited
  • Doubtful, Thompson and Bradshaw Sounds internal waters – daily limit of 1 blue cod per fisher (with no accumulation).

Set net closures

Fiordland Marine Area – closed to set and drift netting. It is prohibited to use a drift net for fishing in any New Zealand fisheries waters.

Map showing the areas affected by set net restrictions.

Food safety warnings

Warnings are issued when shellfish are unsafe to eat because of contamination with biotoxin.

Report poaching

Report poaching, suspicious, or illegal activity – call 0800 4 POACHER (0800 47 62 24) or email poacher@mpi.govt.nz

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 which can result in fines up to $250,000.

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