National Blue Cod Strategy

We have finalised the National Blue Cod Strategy. Find out about its development and how we plan to implement it.


23 December 2020 – online blue cod survey

The changes made to the blue cod fishing rules from 1 July 2020 are to ensure the sustainability of the important blue cod fishery and were a key priority of the National Blue Cod Strategy. Fisheries New Zealand will continue to educate fishers on the new rules over this summer through the NZ Fishing Rules app, media, at boat ramps, and at sea.

We are looking to gather more feedback on the implementation and effectiveness of the new rules. We plan to have workshops with an expert working group, and recreational fishers will be surveyed at boat ramps and through this online survey.

Take time to complete this survey. It closes at the end of February 2021. You will make a valuable contribution to the ongoing management of the blue cod fishery.

26 May 2020 – Minister’s decision on blue cod fishing regulations

Following consultation, the Minister of Fisheries has made decisions on blue cod regulations for both recreational and commercial fishing.

The minister has decided to:

  • require a minimum mesh size on blue cod pots of 54mm for both commercial and recreational fishers
  • apply a recreational minimum legal size of 33cm for blue cod in all areas, except BCO 1 (upper North Island) where the minimum legal size will remain at 30cm
  • require recreational fishers to land blue cod in a measurable state (unless to be immediately eaten on the fishing vessel from which it was taken)
  • apply a two-day accumulation limit for recreational blue cod fishers based on the daily bag limit set for all areas (except for the Fiordland Marine Area where the accumulation limit is 1 day)
  • set the daily recreational bag limits for blue cod in areas of the South Island and the Chatham Islands according to a traffic light system.

Note: The traffic light system assigns a colour rating to different areas in the South Island and the Chatham Islands. The rating can be changed as available information suggests stock health is improving or declining. The following blue cod bag limits apply to the areas:

  • green areas (healthy) are 15
  • orange (rebuilding/declining) are 10
  • red (in trouble) are 2. 

These measures will apply from 1 July 2020.

Recreational Blue Cod Regulations [PDF, 1.8 MB]

Recreational Blue Cod Regulations Overview – Map [PDF, 1.1 MB]

FAQs on the regulations change [PDF, 227 KB]

Find out more about the consultation to change blue cod fishing regulations

24 April 2020 – Regulation changes delayed

Regulation changes for blue cod were delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

18 December 2019

The Government is considering final advice on the proposed amendments to the blue cod regulations. A full announcement on any regulation changes for blue cod is expected soon. Any new regulations will likely come into effect in May 2020.

28 March 2019

We're reviewing your consultation submissions

From 29 January to 26 March 2019, Fisheries New Zealand ran a public consultation on these proposed changes to the blue cod fishing regulations:

  • Require all fishers to have a minimum cod pot mesh size of 54mm.
  • Standardise the Minimum Legal Size (MLS) for recreational fishing at 33cm.
  • Require all recreational fishers to land blue cod in a measurable state.
  • Set a 2-day accumulation limit for recreational fishing.
  • Change the recreational daily bag limits for some blue cod stocks, according to a ‘traffic light’ system.

Fisheries New Zealand received a large number of submissions. We'll provide advice to the Minister of Fisheries based on the information we received. The minister will decide on any potential changes later in 2019.

Implementing the proposed changes to regulations is just one part of the National Blue Cod Strategy. Fisheries New Zealand will be implementing the other parts of the Strategy in a staged approach. More information will be available later in 2019.

If you have any questions about the strategy, email

About the National Blue Cod Strategy

Fisheries New Zealand has collaborated with iwi, stakeholders and a blue cod expert group to develop and finalise the National Blue Cod Strategy.

The overarching aim of the strategy is to work together to deliver abundant and sustainable blue cod fisheries for all.

Release of the strategy

On 20 December 2018, Hon Stuart Nash (Minister of Fisheries) publicly endorsed the National Blue Cod Strategy.

The strategy takes a proactive approach to managing the blue cod fishery.

We will be consulting on a number of proposed regulatory changes in 2019 that are outlined in the strategy (the strategy itself is not being consulted on). We will release more information, including opportunities to meet with us to provide input into the options, closer to the time. So keep an eye out on this web page or in the media for updates.

In the meantime, if you have any questions about the strategy, email

Flow chart with 6 consultation stages (including workshops, meetings and surveys)
to guide development of a National Blue Cod Strategy. The current stage is stage 4 – 'Wider engagement 2'

A flow chart of the public consultation process to guide development of the National Blue Cod Strategy.

Stages listed in chronological order

Expert Workshop 1 
  • Develop aim and objectives
  • Develop online survey 1
Wider Engagement 1

Do you agree with the experts? Tell us about your fishery!

  • Online survey 1
  • Face-to-face meetings
Expert Workshop 2
  • Review wider feedback
  • Problems and solutions
  • Develop online survey 2
Wider Engagement 2

Have we got it right? Have we missed anything?

  • Online survey 2
  • Face-to-face meetings
Expert Workshop 3 
  • Review wider feedback
  • Draft the strategy document
National Blue Cod Strategy
  • Finalised and implemented
Change to fishery
  • Consultation on any changes that result from the strategy

[end image description]

Results of first round of public feedback

Photo by Malcom Francis
Photo: Malcolm Francis

In September 2017, MPI ran a nationwide online survey and held information meetings in the South Island (Wider Engagement 1). 

We wanted to find out what people thought:

  • of their local blue cod fisheries
  • were the major issues in their local blue cod fisheries
  • about the strategy's aim and objectives that were developed during the first expert workshop.

Download information distributed at the drop-in meetings [PDF, 4 MB]

Some key results

  • In general, the feedback indicated that blue cod fisheries in most areas are doing okay. However, it also suggested there are issues in some areas that need to be resolved.
  • The aim and objectives of the strategy were widely supported, including by 90% of the survey respondents.
  • Some of the main concerns nationally were recreational daily bag limits, total allowable commercial catch, released fish mortality, illegal take, and localised depletion.
  • The issues facing the blue cod fishery differ regionally, highlighting the different stresses facing local blue cod fisheries throughout the country.
  • More than 85% of respondents to the online survey were recreational fishers.

Find out more

A summary of the key findings [PDF, 1.6 MB]

Full report – results and feedback from Wider Engagement 1 [PDF, 7.4 MB]

Developing the options

On 17 October 2017, MPI held the second expert workshop in Christchurch. The purpose of the workshop was to:

  • review the results from Wider Engagement 1
  • begin developing options to achieve the aims and objectives of the strategy.

Results of second round of public feedback

Over 4 weeks in March and April 2018, we ran a second nationwide online survey and held more information meetings around the South Island, and one in Wellington (Wider Engagement 2).

We wanted to:

  • discuss the results of first round of engagement
  • find out what people thought of the proposals developed by the expert group
  • check whether we had missed anything that needed to be included.

Download posters presented at the drop-in sessions [PDF, 5.3 MB]

Some key results

  • 150 people attended the 9 information sessions.
  • 1,182 responses received for the second online survey from all over New Zealand.
  • In general, the majority of respondents were very supportive of the proposals.

We received strong support for the proposals in the strategy to address:

  • slow decision making
  • lack of education around blue cod's unique biology
  • current inconsistency in management approaches between areas
  • recreational rules (current bag limits and filleting at sea)
  • environmental impacts
  • lack of recreational catch data and fine-scale commercial data.

The strategy is currently being finalised and will be released in the coming months.

Find out more

A summary of the key findings 2 [PDF, 971 KB]

Full report – results and feedback from Wider Engagement 2 [PDF, 9.9 MB]

Blue cod species and stock status information

Want to know more about blue cod in your fishery area? 

Responsible blue cod fishing guidelines

As part of the strategy, we have developed responsible fishing guidelines for blue cod. If you follow the guidelines, it will help ensure undersize blue cod survive and continue to contribute to the fishery.

Responsible blue cod fishing guidelines [PDF, 1.1 MB]

Stay informed

You can keep up-to-date on our progress with the strategy on this web page or:

Or follow one of our recreational fisheries Facebook pages:

Who to contact

If you have questions about the blue cod strategy, email

Last reviewed: