Catch Limit Changes for Fiordland and Chathams

Fiordland Marine Area and Chatham Rise Fishing Area

Recreational fishers heading to Fiordland and the Chatham Islands will need to check the new catch limits that came into force on 25 April.

Daily bag limits for a range of recreationally caught fish species in these areas have reduced, as has the nationwide daily limit for quinnat salmon.

The changes are to help keep our fisheries healthy and sustainable, so that current and future generations of fishers can continue to enjoy local kaimoana”, says Emma Taylor, Director Fisheries Management, Fisheries New Zealand.

“These are both unique areas of Aotearoa that have experienced an uptick in visitors in recent years, many of which are also keen fishers wanting to catch a feed of some of our most iconic fish species”.

The changes have been driven by concerns from tangata whenua and community groups about the long-term sustainability of several fish species. With additional fishing pressure in these areas, locals were worried that their fisheries would suffer if the catch limits stayed the same.

“In Fiordland, some fish stocks are more productive in the waters outside of the fiords and the changes will help move fishing pressure to the areas where it can be better sustained. For example, the daily limit for Hāpuku/Bass has dropped to one fish per person in the fiords waters, and five per person in the more productive areas of the Fiordland Marine Area (outside the fiord coastal waters)”.

Changes for Fiordland include:

  • Reductions in daily and combined species limits within the fiords, particularly for resident species such as blue cod, hāpuku/ bass, and pāua.
  • Shifting the boundary line for the area where there are daily lower limits for some species in the internal waters of Fiordland further out to the fiord headlands.
  • Smaller reductions to daily limits in the wider Fiordland Marine Area to ensure sustainability of the fisheries that may be subject to a resulting shift in effort.

The full list of changes can be found on MPI’s website: fiordland-fishing-rules “The proposals for Fiordland were developed by the Fiordland Marine Guardians and went through extensive public engagement, with the Guardians providing expert advice throughout the process,” says Ms Taylor. The Chatham Islands is another unique part of New Zealand and has become a popular destination for people from around the country and beyond to visit and catch some of Aotearoa’s most sought-after kaimoana.

It’s an area that is well known for its pāua, rock lobster, hāpuku, blue cod and many other popular fish. To better understand the level of recreational fishing activity, the local community developed the idea of a survey to gather details about recreational take of popular fish species and what they thought the limits should be. To further support this, Fisheries New Zealand proposed to remove the accumulation limit to encourage people to ‘fish for a feed’, rather than for the freezer.

“It really has been great work from the community, alongside Fisheries New Zealand, to support their desire to sustainably manage their local fisheries,” Emma Taylor said.

Changes for the Chatham Islands include:

Reductions to the daily limit for most species, including blue cod, hāpuku/bass, kingfish, and pāua.

Removing the ability for recreational fishers to accumulate multiple days of catch on the islands (as previously announced in 2023).

The full list of changes can be found on MPI’s website: chatham-fishing-rules

In addition, the nationwide catch limit for quinnat salmon caught in marine waters has reduced to one fish per person per day. This aligns the catch limit for marine caught salmon with the limit that applies for rivers and freshwater administered by Fish and Game New Zealand.

Options for the various changes were publicly consulted, and the majority of feedback received supported these changes and reflected local concerns.

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