Play your part to conserve the resource
Fishing is one of New Zealand’s most popular recreational activities. Most of us regard fishing and collecting seafood as an important part of our way of life, but every year a large number recreational fishers are taking more finfish, rock lobster and shellfish. The combined effect of this can seriously affect local fisheries. Stocks are easily depleted.
This means it is important for all fishers to act responsibly and help to conserve the resource.
Know the limits
Commercial fishers must have a current fishing permit and are subject to strict quotas or limits on how much they can catch, along with many other controls. The restrictions on recreational fishers are relatively simple. The three main things to remember are:
- Don’t take more than the daily limit
- Don’t take undersized fish
- Don’t sell or trade your catch
Only those physically involved in taking finfish, rock lobster, or shellfish are entitled to claim the daily limit. For example, only a diver who enters the water and gathers shellfish from its’ natural habitat on the seabed is entitled to his or her daily catch entitlement. There are however some qualified exceptions to this rule. Specifically, when diving from a vessel for scallops and dredge oysters for up to two safety people. The safety people must be on board the vessel, and acting in that capacity, when the diving is undertaken. If only one safety person is on board the vessel, only one extra bag limit may be taken. A maximum of two extra bag limits may be taken per vessel, regardless of the number of people diving.
Alive and unharmed
Unlawfully taken fish - such as fish taken in excess of your daily limit, undersized fish, or fish taken with undersized mesh - must be immediately returned to the sea. Fish taken alive should be returned very gently, allowing the fish to slide into the water from as close to the surface as possible. It is also important to return fish, especially shellfish and rock lobster, as near as possible to the place where they were found. Dead fish that are taken unlawfully must also be returned to the sea.
This section is a guide to laws controlling the taking and possession of finfish, shellfish and rock lobster, and there are heavy penalties for breaching these laws but it is not a complete summary. There are a number of other restrictions relating to fishing in local areas. All these laws are subject to change at any time, without prior notice and the restrictions change from time to time, so you should be aware of any changes, particularly in bag and size limits.
The complete regulations (the Fisheries Act 1996 and associated regulations) are available from Bennetts Government Bookshops.