Monitoring and observing fishing activity
Monitoring fishing activity is important to ensure that we have sustainable fisheries. Find out how we monitor New Zealand's fishing activity.
On this page:
- How monitoring and observing fisheries helps us
- Monitoring commercial fishing
- Monitoring recreational fishing
- Becoming a fishery officer or fisheries observer
Monitoring fishing activity helps us to:
- find out the types and quantity of fish being caught
- monitor by-catch
- gather accurate and useful information
- ensure that regulations are followed by fishers
- fine or prosecute where illegal activity happens.
Fisheries observers join commercial fishing boat trips to collect data. They collect data on:
- what fish the fishers are catching
- the size, sex, and ages of fish caught
- the amount of fish caught
- by-catch and information on marine mammals and seabirds
- biological information to help with assessing fish stocks
- unusual specimens for museums
- information about vessel safety and employment
- fish processing and handling information
- how catches are retained.
Our main monitoring activities
We invest a lot into monitoring fishing activity. Ways that we monitor include:
- patrols by fisheries officers
- using satellite technology, aircraft, and patrol boats to monitor boats and crews
- observers on commercial fishing boats, who record what is caught (including by-catch of seabirds and marine mammals).
Monitoring helps us analyse fishing trends and patterns to identify issues.
We have our own boats for monitoring. We also work with the Navy and the Air Force. This helps us to increase our reach and effectiveness.
Fisheries officers inspect commercial fishing boats and businesses that buy and sell fish. This helps to ensure that the fish have been correctly reported and recorded. Fisheries officers also do sea patrols that target commercial vessels. When they board, they inspect catches and ensure that catch reports are correct.
Fisheries observers are also deployed on commercial fishing vessels to monitor and record fishing information. The number of fisheries observers has more than doubled since 2006.
- we complete over 1,000 commercial boat inspections
- we carry out nearly 30,000 fishing patrols and inspections
- our observer programme plans more than 11,000 days at sea.
The information we collect helps lead to hundreds of prosecutions and thousands of infringements issued each year.
Over 25% of all deepwater catch is taken by boats with a fisheries observer on board.
The information we gather is used to get a better understanding of what's happening at sea.
Because offences usually happen at sea, it's difficult and expensive to monitor our fisheries. New Zealand has over 4 million square kilometres of ocean. Despite this, we do several hundred at-sea inspections each year to help preserve fisheries resources.
Taking advantage of new technologies
New technology is transforming how we monitor fishing activity. We’re developing a new digital system for tracking, monitoring, and reporting of commercial fishing.
Fishery officers and honorary fishery officers (volunteers) monitor recreational fishing. They do tens of thousands of inspections each year. Most of these happen at beaches, launching ramps, and marinas. Fishery officers have specific enforcement powers that allow them to stop, question, and search boats, vehicles, and premises. This is to ensure that fish have been taken lawfully.
They also do sea patrols. These happen at specific times of the day and night when fishers are most active.
Fishery officers work across New Zealand covering recreational, commercial, and customary fishing. A large part of their role also involves educating fishers on the rules in place to protect our fisheries.
Honorary fishery officers
Honorary fishery officers are vital to our work. They're volunteers who help to protect their local fisheries, and have similar powers to full-time fishery officers.
There are over 200 honorary fishery officers patrolling throughout New Zealand, often in remote areas.
If you're interested in applying to become an honorary fishery officer, email HFO@mpi.govt.nz
We advertise on our website when we're hiring for fishery officers. You check the Careers Centre and subscribe to be notified when there are vacancies:
Careers.govt.nz has information about the role.
To find out about becoming a fisheries observer, visit this web page:
Who to contact
If you have questions about fisheries monitoring and observing, email email@example.com