Introduction to fisheries legislation
We are the New Zealand Government’s principal adviser on fisheries management and the impacts of fishing on the aquatic environment. We operate under the Fisheries Act 1996 and a range of other legislation relating to fisheries management.
The Fisheries Act and sustainability
We are responsible for administering the Fisheries Act 1996 and its supporting regulations. The Act gives commercial, recreational, and customary fishers access to resources while ensuring our fish stocks are managed sustainably. Sustainable catch levels determine how many fish can be harvested.
The Act includes law about:
- the application and administration of the Quota Management System (QMS)
- measures that contribute to the sustainability of fisheries resources and avoiding, remedying or mitigating any adverse effects of fishing on the aquatic environment
- recognition of the Treaty of Waitangi (Fisheries Claims) Settlement Act 1992 and the creation of tools to provide for customary use and fishery management practices
- allocation of Total Allowable Catch (TAC) between Māori customary, recreational, and commercial fishers.
We deliver the Crown's obligations to Māori under the:
- Treaty of Waitangi (Fisheries Claims) Settlement Act 1992
- Māori Commercial Aquaculture Claims Settlement Act 2004
- Māori Fisheries Act 2004
Treaty of Waitangi fisheries claims
The Treaty of Waitangi (Fisheries Claims) Settlement Act makes sure that all Māori claims to commercial fisheries under the Treaty of Waitangi have been fully and finally settled. It puts in place the agreements made in the 1992 Fisheries Deed of Settlement.
Allocation of fish stocks
Under the Māori Fisheries Act 2004, 20% of quota for any new QMS stocks is allocated to Māori fisheries.
New Zealand has signed up to a number of international treaties that manage international fisheries, including the United Nations' Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Under these agreements, we have developed New Zealand legislation around international fisheries.
- United Nations' Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS)
- Find out more about international fisheries
We manage land-based and marine aquaculture under several different laws including the Fisheries Act 1996 and the Resource Management Act 1991.