Our fishery management initiatives

Read about the work we're doing to improve how we manage and control fisheries for now and the future.

Getting ready for future challenges

Fisheries New Zealand needs to continue to maintain and foster resilience in the fisheries management system so we are prepared to respond to future challenges. We're already working with stakeholders on ways to make that happen.

Fisheries Change Programme

As part of our dedication to growing and protecting New Zealand, we launched a major programme of work to identify and implement improvements in the way we manage our fisheries.

Meeting Treaty of Waitangi obligations

Effective management of customary fisheries and the maintenance of the Crown's obligations arising from the 1992 Fisheries Settlement continues to be a feature of our work.

Māori claims to fisheries have been settled and the Crown has an ongoing obligation to:

  • provide for tangata whenua involvement in decisions that may affect fisheries sustainability
  • recommend regulations that recognise customary food gathering and provide for the special relationship between tangata whenua and important fishing grounds.

Iwi fisheries forums and plans

We've set up iwi fisheries forums to help iwi develop plans that identify the customary, commercial, recreational and environmental objectives for fisheries of importance to that iwi. We can then use those plans to help its own planning for fisheries and identify how tangata whenua exercise kaitiakitanga (guardianship and conservation). 

We must have particular regard to kaitiakitanga, which can be specified in those plans when making decisions on fisheries sustainability.

We have regulations to provide for customary food gathering by Māori and for the special relationship between tangata whenua and fisheries of particular importance to them.  The aim is for the regulations to:

  • enable tangata whenua to manage their customary fishing activities
  • harvest the kaimoana that the iwi requires to meet its customary non-commercial fishing requirements
  • enable tangata whenua to manage those fishing grounds that are of most significance to them.

We're working with iwi on the implementation of these regulations and how best to deliver benefit for iwi.

We're also working with iwi governance entities who have engaged in Treaty settlements to develop regulations to address specific issues arising from their Treaty settlements.

Regulations are part of the fisheries management system but recognise and provide for access and management by tangata whenua in a way that is appropriate for Māori. Management under regulations needs to:

  • align closely with the fisheries management system
  • ensure that customary fisheries are achieving the purpose of the Act and the commitments in the 1992 Fisheries Deed of Settlement and the Treaty of Waitangi (Fisheries Claims) Settlement Act 1992
  • make sure data is supplied to enable fisheries to be managed in an integrated way.

 Find out more

Working together – getting involved

We aim to provide opportunities for New Zealanders to benefit from our fisheries resources.  Benefit or value can be defined in terms of:

  • money – as it is by the commercial sector
  • recreation – food or the pleasure of being outdoors and catching fish
  • customary – food, culture, or tradition (for example, manaakitanga – provide seafood for guests and kaitiakitanga – guardianship)
  • environmental – natural value of marine habitats and biodiversity. 

We want to provide plenty of chances for everyone with an interest to discuss options and work together. It's important if we're to get the best overall outcomes for fisheries resources and their management, whether for a single fish stock, species, community or region. Collaboration helps people understand sustainable fisheries management and share in the responsibility for that management. 

We already have plenty of examples of our commitment to talking and working with others to get the best value from our fisheries, including:

  • the Marlborough Sounds Blue Cod Management Group
  • the Snapper 1 (SNA1) Strategy Group
  • Te Korowai o Te Tai ō Marokura
  • Fiordland Marine Guardians
  • Sea Change – Tai Timu Tai Pari Marine Hauraki Gulf spatial plan.

Find out more

Adopt new fisheries monitoring technologies

Knowing how much fish is caught is essential to making informed decisions about sustainable fisheries management.

Fisheries New Zealand needs timely and verifiable data so we can:

  • confirm the amount caught against catch limits
  • understand what effects fishing is having on the wider environment.  

Improved data gathering

Fisheries New Zealand is rolling out a new digital system for tracking, monitoring and reporting of commercial fishing.

The digital monitoring system is made up of:

  • electronic reporting (ER) of catch via an e-log book – so we can quickly and accurately measure commercial catch effort
  • geospatial position reporting (GPR) – so we can verify (when used with ER) where and when fishing happened
  • electronic monitoring (EM) (on-board cameras) – so we can verify what is being reported (Note: no decisions have been made on cameras at this stage)

Digital monitoring will support sustainable fisheries.

A digital system for tracking, reporting, and monitoring commercial fishing activity will give us more accurate and up-to-date information. This will lead to better decision-making by government and the fishing industry.

Snapper 1 camera trial

The Ministry for Primary Industries is running a trial of camera technology on vessels in the Snapper 1 (SNA1) fishery. The fishery extends from the north east of the North Island from North Cape to Cape Runaway.

For the trial, cameras were installed on all snapper one commercial trawl vessels by March 2016. It's the first time electronic monitoring has been used in New Zealand.

The trial is providing valuable data about the fishery. It will also help us get a better understanding of the detail of implementing digital monitoring.

We ran an open tender process to choose a provider of the technology needed to run the trial. The tender followed the usual government process.

We have made no decision about who will be supplying the technology required to run digital monitoring. When the time comes, this will be subject to another public open tender process. Then we'll consider all viable proposals which meet the requirements as laid out in the request for proposals.

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Accounting for the costs of fishing

We charge for some services to help towards recovering the costs of providing fisheries and conservation services, such as research, compliance and monitoring.

Costs are recovered from industry, which benefit from those services, or cause the adverse effects on the aquatic environment that the services are designed to avoid, remedy or mitigate. But the cost of these services affects the profitability of commercial fishing. 

We must ensure that the costs for such services are equitable, justifiable, and transparent. It's also important industry has the information it needs to be actively engaged in cost recovery decisions.  

Cost recovery first principles review

A first principles review of our cost recovery arrangements is underway. It aims to identify improvements across all cost recovery arrangements, including fisheries. 

We will talk widely with the industry as well as hold a public consultation to ensure the outcomes of the review are successful.

Annual cost recovery

Levies for the fishing industry are reviewed each year. The latest review saw new levies set from 1 October 2015.

Recreational Fishing Initiative underway

Recreational fishing is an important part of New Zealand’s fishing culture and provides valuable benefit to New Zealanders. 

But 94% of recreational fishers don't belong to fishing clubs or other related groups. We want recreational fishers to be more involved in decision-making, and giving feedback on issues in their local areas.

We've set up a recreational fisheries team to ensure this sector is given appropriate focus and the benefits associated with recreational fishing are realised – and to work closely on management issues. 


Map of recreational fishing (amateur and charter fishing vessels)

Recreational fishing rules and maps of New Zealand's 7 fishing areas

Avoiding adverse effects on aquatic environments

The purpose of the Fisheries Act requires avoiding, remedying, or mitigating any adverse effects of fishing on the aquatic environment, which includes protected species.  We've taken a proactive approach to meeting this objective through plans that:

  • increase awareness of the risks and threats to protected species
  • ensure effective mitigation methods are applied in all New Zealand fisheries and by New Zealand vessels on the high seas
  • reduce capture rates of protected species through continuous practical improvement in all New Zealand fisheries
  • support and fund the development of new mitigation measures, observation and monitoring methods, and relevant research
  • apply a risk-based approach to setting management and research priorities.

This helps ensure management resources are targeted where they will be most effective and will provide the most benefit for specific species.

Plans underway

The plans established up to 1 October 2015 include the:

  • National Plan of Action for Seabirds
  • National Plan of Action for Sharks
  • Hector's and Māui's dolphin Threat Management Plan. 

We're also working with the Department of Conservation (DOC) and stakeholders on the development of a Threat Management Plan for the New Zealand Sea Lion.

The effectiveness of these plans and how well they support the purpose of the Fisheries Act will be considered as part of the Fisheries Management Review.

Ongoing work

Since 2007, there have also been the Benthic Protection Areas (BPAs) which makes up 32% of New Zealand Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). These areas are protected from bottom trawling and dredging.

There is also a network of marine protection areas that are representative of New Zealand’s unique marine habitats and ecosystems.

Find out more

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