Frequently Asked Questions
How do I find recreational fishing regulations for my area?
The recreational rules for each fishery management area can be found on our website, in the recreational section. From here you can click on brochures specific to the region you plan to fish in, as well as find information on different species, fishing methods and areas closed to fishing.
If you can’t find the answer to your question on the website, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. One of our fishery officers will get back to you with an answer.
What should I do if I suspect someone is taking too many fish or shellfish?
The Fisheries (Amateur Fishing) Regulations 1986 set out the maximum number of finfish, shellfish and rock lobster which may be taken or possessed by any one person, in any day. This means that a person who accumulates more than his/her daily limit will be charged with breaches of the regulations.
If you see someone taking more than their fair share, note down as many details as you can (location, time, date, car registration etc) and call 0800 4POACHER (0800 4 76224). Fishery officers will respond to your call and investigate the situation.
Am I allowed to sell the fish that I catch?
Only commercial fishers who hold a current fishing permit are allowed to sell their catch.
It is a serious offence for anyone else such as recreational or customary fishers to sell their catch. Selling includes offering for sale and barter
What should I do if I suspect someone is illegally selling fish or shellfish?
There are people who choose to ignore the rules and try and gain economically from catching fish without having the required permits to do so.
If you suspect someone is selling fish illegally (ie they have come to your door and offered a knock-down price for seafood), take as many details as you can (location, time, date, car registration etc) and call 0800 4POACHER. Do not buy the fish if you suspect it is illegal.
What should I do if I receive an infringement notice?
'All about your infringement notice’ is a brochure sent to fishers when they receive an infringement notice after breaching one of the laws surrounding the gathering of fish or shellfish.
It explains the different options available – pay it, write in requesting the notice be waived, or request a defended or non-defended hearing. It also notes what happens when the fee is referred to the District Court for collection.
Infringement Notice (PDF 1.72mb)
The Ministry employs approximately 100 fishery officers spread around the country from Invercargill to Kaitaia. Their role is to monitor the people using our coastal fishery resources and ensure the fishery regulations are adhered to.
The Ministry advertises for fishery officers frequently, so make sure you regularly check the website for jobs.
How do I become an Observer?
The Ministry has a pool of 40 – 45 observers at any one time. The role of an observer is to go out on commercial fishing vessels to observe whether their commercial catch reports are an accurate record of what was caught.
The Ministry runs recruitment drives every six to eight months, which are notified on the Ministry’s job vacancies web pages. If you would like to be directly notified of the next recruitment drive send your details to email@example.com
How do I get an authority to fish?
The Ministry of Fisheries looks after most of New Zealand’s fisheries resources, whether these are found in tarns, rivers, lakes, estuaries, or the sea. In general, you do not need an authority to fish on a recreational basis in New Zealand fisheries waters, provided you fish within the laws for this activity. Some exceptions apply.
If you are wanting to fish recreationally for freshwater ‘sportsfish’ such as trout or salmon, you need to obtain a licence from Fish and Game New Zealand, the organisation responsible for the management of these few sportsfish species. Their website: http://www.fishandgame.org.nz/.
What is a mätaitai reserve?
Mätaitai reserves recognise a marine or freshwater area* traditionally used for customary food gathering by tangata whenua. These reserves allow tangata whenua to manage the area in partnership with the Ministry.
When a mätaitai reserve is proposed over a traditional fishing ground, tangata whenua nominate Tangata Kaitiaki/Tiaki to manage it. The Tangata Kaitiaki/Tiaki can recommend bylaws to manage fisheries within all or any part of the reserve and recommend reinstatement of commercial fishing of specific species by quantity or time period.
The Ministry provides Tangata Kaitiaki/Tiaki with management support and also provides advice to the Minister of Fisheries on any management measures proposed by Tangata Kaitiaki/Tiaki.
The Minister of Fisheries, however, is ultimately responsible for New Zealand’s fisheries, and must decide whether or not to approve any fishery management measures recommended by Tangata Kaitiaki/Tiaki.
*The Fisheries (South Island Customary Fishing) Regulations 1999 provide for freshwater mätaitai reserves to be created in South Island waters.
Am I allowed to fillet my fish at sea?
There are no regulations that prohibit the filleting of fish at sea. Where the fish in question is subject to a size limit, it would be beneficial to only fillet larger fish where there would be no doubt as to the original size of the fish.
If your fish is on or near the legal size limit it is recommended that you do not fillet the fish at sea.
Basically, you need to be able to satisfy the inspecting fishery officer as to whether the fillet came from a legal sized fish.
Can I use a casting net in New Zealand?
There are no specific restrictions against using casting nets in New Zealand, however there may be closed areas (rähui), marine reserves or mätaitai to consider when setting your net.
The size of the mesh depends on your targeted species. For bait fish such as herrings, pilchards and pipers etc the mesh size is 25mm.
Regulations and mesh sizes for fishing nets are shown in our regulation brochures, which you can access here: Recreational section
If you would like to request a recreational fishing poster, a traditional Maori fishing poster, a fish size limits boat sticker, or any other MFish resource, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you would like to be put on or removed from the mailing list for Hi Ika or The Bite, email email@example.com.