Guardians welcome changes to amateur fishing rules for Fiordland

Photo Credit S Braaksma

No less than three years after we began investigating concerns of over-fishing in Fiordland, we are pleased to announce new recreational fishing rules for the Fiordland (Te Moana o Atawhenua) Marine Area. This is the biggest change to fishing rules in the area since the Fiordland Marine Guardians began in 2005 and is a stellar example of local people developing solutions for local problems.

The Guardians’ recommendations to the Minister of Oceans and Fisheries followed a 2022 review, where feedback showed support for changes to rules to help protect the area from increased fishing pressure, particularly around the fiord entrances.

The Minister for Oceans and Fisheries, Hon Rachel Brooking, recently approved our recommendations following public consultation. We would like to thank those who assisted with our review and critical analysis of our proposal by participating in workshops, attending public hui, contacting us directly and making written submissions during the consultation process. We learnt a lot during the process, and believe the result is stronger than our initial proposal thanks to the constructive feedback we received.

Photo Credit KA Edge

In brief the changes will: 

• reduce daily species and bag limits for many finfish and shellfish species within the fiords. 

• introduce a Fishing Line at the entrance of each fiord to reduce the pressure on species in the fiord entrances and encourage fishing on the outer coast. 

• close the oyster and scallop fisheries in Fiordland. 

Most of the changes are expected to be in place for the coming summer. 

Without doubt, the most feedback we received related to rock lobster/ kōura. We took this feedback on board and as a result there will be no change to the amateur fishing rules for spiny and packhorse species.

We will continue to advocate to the government for mandatory recreational reporting based on the strong support expressed during public consultation. Here’s a chance for us to prove how informative and powerful data can be in guiding fisheries management. We ask fishers to download the app Mainland Catch and start recording your catch. The data will support our future review of the effectiveness of these rules in improving sustainability of key stocks.

Photo Credit Descend Dive

During the consultation process a couple of ideas were proposed the Guardians consider having merit. There was feedback there should be restrictions on ‘bulk’ harvesting methods such as cod potting, longlining, and set lining by both recreational and commercial fishers inside the new Fishing Line. Submitters also raised concerns about the potential for vessels with large fishing parties onboard to contribute to localised depletion of fish stocks. The introduction of boat limits (a limit on the total number of fish and shellfish taken per vessel) was proposed to reduce this risk.

We consider there is a need for focused discussion on these two proposals and the minister agrees, having instructed Fisheries New Zealand to go out for further consultation. The proposals in full and details on how to make a submission can be found on the Fisheries New Zealand website. The consultation period closes on Monday 28 August. We encourage anyone with an interest (recreational or commercial) to provide feedback on the proposals.

The Guardians are looking forward to The Rock Southland Boat Show in Invercargill over the weekend of August 12-13. Track us down to have a chat about the new rules and the proposed gear restrictions and boat limits. We’ll be lurking around by the Harbour Master’s vessel.

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