Introduction to fisheries legislation

Fisheries New Zealand is the Government's principal adviser for New Zealand fisheries management. Learn about the legislation guiding management of our fisheries.

Our role

We are the New Zealand Government’s principal adviser on:

  • fisheries management
  • 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 1996 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 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
    • 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 fishers
    • recreational fishers
    • commercial fishers.

Fisheries Act 1996 – NZ Legislation

Find fisheries regulations – FishServe

Quota Management System

Māori fisheries

We deliver the Crown's obligations to Māori under the:

Treaty of Waitangi fisheries claims

The Treaty of Waitangi (Fisheries Claims) Settlement Act 1992 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.

Treaty of Waitangi (Fisheries Claims) Settlement Act 1992

Allocation of fish stocks

Under the Māori Fisheries Act 2004, 20% of quota for any new QMS stocks is allocated to Māori fisheries.

Māori Fisheries Act 2004

International fisheries

New Zealand has signed up to a number of international treaties that manage international fisheries. This includes 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

Aquaculture legislation

We manage land-based and marine aquaculture under several different laws. These include the Fisheries Act 1996 and the Resource Management Act 1991.

Read about aquaculture legislation

Who to contact

If you have questions about fisheries legislation, email

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