South-East area fishing rules

Recreational fishing rules for the South-East area, including closures, restrictions, and other important notices.

What you need to know

Map of South-East fishing area

 

This area, includes the east coast of the South Island between Clarence Point near Kaikoura, down to Slope Point, Southland, and extending out 200 nautical miles to the Chatham Islands. Note, it excludes a small area around Kaikōura, which has different rules.

Kaikōura recreational fishing rules

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

There are 2 brochures for this region. Make sure you download the right brochure for your area.

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

Additionally there are individual limits, over and above the combined bag, for groper/hapuku/bass and kingfish. These have a combined daily limit of 5 (max 3 kingfish).

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.

New blue cod rules

Finfish Species Min length (cm) Max daily limit
(per fisher)
Min mesh size
for nets (mm)
Blue cod 33 See below
Blue moki 40 15 114
Bluenose 5 160
Blue shark 1 100
Bronze shark 1 100
Butterfish/Greenbone 35 15 108
Eel 6 12
Elephant fish 5 150
Flatfish (except Sand flounder) 25 30 100
Grey Mullet 30 90
Hammerhead shark 1 100
Hapuku/bass 160
Kahawai 15 90
Lamphrey 30 100
Ling 30 100
Mako shark 1 100
Marble Fish 30 100
Porbeagle shark 1 100
Red cod 25 10 100
Red gurnard 25 30 100
Red moki 40 15 115
Rig 5 150
Salmon 2 100
Salmon (Otago Harbour) 45 2 100
Sand flounder 23 30 100
School shark 5 150
Seven gilled shark 1 100
Skate/Ray 5 100
Snapper 25 10 125
Spikey dogfish 15 100
Spotted black groper No take 100
Stargazer 30 100
Tarakihi 25 15 100
Thresher shark 1 100
Trevally 25 30 100
Trumpeter 35 15 100
Warehou 15 100
White pointer shark No take 100
Wrasse 30 100

* The North Canterbury area runs from the south bank of the Waimakariri River to the mouth of the Conway River.

Blue cod restrictions

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

Accumulation limit: When your fishing trip is more than 1 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 in a measurable state. The following measurable states apply:

  • Kaikōura blue cod management area (Clarence River to Hurunui River) – whole or gutted.
  • Canterbury blue cod management area (Hurunui River to Rakaia River) – whole or gutted.
  • North Otago blue cod management (Rakaia River to Taiaroa Head) – whole or gutted.
  • Chatham Islands blue cod management area – whole or gutted, and/or headed.
  • Southern blue cod management area (Taiaroa Head to Sand Hill Point) – whole or gutted and/or headed.

Fishers may possess blue cod in another 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.

Kaikōura blue cod management area: Kaikōura Marine Area (Clarence River to Hurunui River) – 6 per fisher per day.

Te Taumanu o Te Waka a Maui Taiāpure: 2 per fisher per day.

Oaro-Haumuri Taiāpure: 2 per fisher per day. Outside these areas 10 per fisher per day.

Canterbury blue cod management area (Hurunui River to Rakaia River): 2 per fisher per day including Akaroa Taiāpure.

North Otago blue cod management area (Rakaia River to Taiaroa Head): 10 per fisher per day.

East Otago Taiāpure: 2 per fisher per day.

Southern blue cod management area (Taiaroa Head to Sand Hill Point): 15 per fisher per day.

Chatham Islands blue cod management area: 15 per fisher per day.

Shellfish bag and size limits

A summary of the shellfish daily bag and size limits.

Shellfish are taken when they cannot freely return to the water – for example, when they are 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 Daily limit per fisher Min size (mm)
Cockle 150 none
Kina (sea eggs) 50 none
Mussels 50 none
Oysters
– Dredge^+
(Season: 1 Mar to 31 Aug)

50

58

Pāua 
– Ordinary
– Yellow foot
– Ordinary (Canterbury)***
– Yellow foot (Canterbury)***

Moeraki Mātaitai* (outside closed areas)

East Otago Taiapure**

Timaru Mātaitai


10
10
5
5

3 (combined total)

0

3 (combined total)


125
80
125
80

as above

0

as above

Pipi 150 none
Scallops+
(Season: 15 Jul to 14 Feb)
20 100
Tuatua 150 none
All others (combined) • 50 none

^ During the open season dredge oysters can be harvested by dredge and the use of underwater breathing apparatus. Both the daily limit and minimum size of 58mm applies. Hand gathering dredge oysters: there is no restriction on either size or season for dredge oysters that are hand-gathered (includes shore picking and free diving, does not include diving using underwater breathing apparatus.) The exception is the waters of the Chatham Islands where the dredge oyster minimum size of 58mm applies.

* View a map of the Moeraki Mātaitai Reserve including closed areas [PDF, 203 KB]

** View the East Otago Taiapure rules including closed and restricted areas [PDF, 1.5 MB]

*** Map of the Canterbury pāua restrictions [PDF, 1.3 MB]

Get a brochure [PDF, 2.2 MB]

+ 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. Note: This only applies to taking scallops and oysters.

• 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

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.

Rules changing in CRA5 area from 1 July 2020

Daily bag limits

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

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).

Additional rules and protections

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

From Clarence Point to the Waitaki River

Telson clipping is required for all recreationally harvested spiny rock lobsters. 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. Do not telson clip any packhorse rock lobsters.

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

When daily limits are accumulated, the maximum number of spiny rock lobster that one person can have in their possession at any one time is:

  • 18 spiny rock lobsters (3 daily bag limits of 6)

This possession limit applies everywhere, including in the home.

‘Bag and tag’ conditions apply – you must hold spiny rock lobster in a container or bag that contains only a single day’s catch, and is clearly labelled with:

  • the individual fisher’s name,
  • the date the lobsters were taken, and
  • the number of lobsters held.

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.

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 in a measurable state. The following measurable states apply:

  • Kaikōura blue cod management area (Clarence River to Hurunui River) – whole or gutted.
  • Canterbury blue cod management area (Hurunui River to Rakaia River) – whole or gutted.
  • North Otago blue cod management (Rakaia River to Taiaroa Head) – whole or gutted.
  • Chatham Islands blue cod management area – whole or gutted, and/or headed.
  • Southern blue cod management area (Taiaroa Head to Sand Hill Point) – whole or gutted and/or headed.

Fishers may possess blue cod in another 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.

New restrictions on pāua

The recreational limit for pāua is changing in Canterbury, Marlborough, and Nelson.

The daily bag limit for pāua is being reduced to 5, and the accumulation limit to 10 pāua or 1.25kg of minced meat. This applies to both black-foot and yellow-foot pāua.

These changes take effect on 12 December 2019 in the Canterbury (PAU3) and Nelson/Marlborough (PAU7) fisheries.

Please note the shellfish closure in Kaikōura and South Marlborough area from Marfells Beach to the Conway River remains closed as per below.

Map for the Canterbury pāua restriction
Map for the Canterbury pāua restriction.

Closed areas

No fishing is allowed, this includes marine reserves. Follow the links to view maps of the reserves on the Department of Conservation (DOC) website:

Marine reserves are managed by DOC.

Kaikōura earthquake-related closure

The area between Marfells Beach (west of Cape Campbell) and the Conway River (which sits south of the Kaikōura township), extending 4 nautical miles from shore is closed to the gathering of shellfish and seaweed – excluding rock lobster, scampi, and octopus.

The closure applies to both recreational and commercial fishers, and is necessary to help the recovery of these fisheries.

  • It applies to all shellfish and seaweed species.
  • The closure excludes scampi (Metanephrops challengeri), rock lobster (Jasus edwardsii), and octopus (Pinnoctopus cordiformis).
  • Gathering shellfish or seaweed in the closed area is an offence and you could be fined up to $100,000.
Marlborough and North Canterbury fishing areas

The marine environment in the shellfish and seaweed closure area is damaged after the earthquakes, and it’s going to take several years to recover. The loss of fishing grounds between North Canterbury (Conway River) and Marlborough (Marfells Beach) has caused an increase in fishing pressure on the neighbouring areas.

If you are gathering kaimoana in Marlborough and Canterbury, do your part to help keep these fisheries sustainable by:

  • Limiting your catch by taking less than your bag limit and just enough for a feed.
  • Changing your fishing method or area if you are only catching small fish or shellfish.
  • Taking special care to return an underside fish and shellfish immediately and with minimum harm.
  • Check local rules for updates every time you go fishing – download the NZ Fishing Rules app.
  • Report suspicious or illegal activity – call 0800 4 POACHER (0800 47 62 24).
Map: The affected area of the earthquake-related closure
Map for the Canterbury pāua restriction

Set netting restrictions

Set netting is prohibited offshore to 4 nautical miles along the east coast of the South Island from Clarence to South Point. However, exemptions apply. You can use set nets:

  • in estuaries, rivers, lagoons and inlets except for the Avon-Heathcote estuary
  • for flounder between 1 April and 30 September in the Pigeon Bay, Akaroa Harbour, Lyttelton Harbour and Port Levy areas around Banks Peninsula.

Flat fish (flounder) set nets must be:

  • 9 meshes or less deep.
  • Have a monofilament diameter equal to or less than 0.35mm.
  • Have a minimum mesh size of 100mm.
  • Be anchored at each end.
  • Not exceed a total length of 60m.
Other areas where set or drag netting is restricted or banned
  • Kaiapoi and Waimakariri rivers – set netting restrictions
  • Lake Ellesmere – set netting restrictions
  • Catlins Lake – no set netting or drag netting
  • Otago Harbour – set netting restrictions.
r200216 Rec SN Closure Comms Maps South East Update 23092020
Map showing the areas affected by set net restrictions.

Taiapure

An area of special significance to an iwi or hapū, where additional rules and restrictions are in place.

Download the rules brochures:

Find out more on the NZ Legislation website:

Mātaitai reserves

Areas where tangata whenua manage non-commercial fishing through bylaws:

Rapaki Bay - Banks Peninsula

Koukourarata - Banks Peninsula

Timaru (Tuhawaiki, Te Ahi Tarakihi and Waitarakao mātaitai)

Lyttleton Harbour/Whakaraupō Mātaitai Reserve

Moeraki – Tikoraki/Tawhiroko and Turaka Waka areas are closed to the gathering of pāua

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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