New rules for finfish combined daily bag limit

Making sure there are enough fish in the water for future generations is at the heart of fisheries management. The new rules that put a daily limit on previously unconstrained finfish species will further support sustainability of our fisheries resources.

The Minister for Oceans and Fisheries, David Parker, recently announced his decision to change the settings following public consultation.

Reports last year of large quantities of fish being caught that were previously considered less desirable as eating fish, signalled a change in the type of fish people like to catch and eat. This prompted a review of the daily limits to ensure they remain appropriate.

There are over 1,000 finfish species found in New Zealand waters and of those only 43 species were previously subject to a daily recreational fishing limit leaving the rest open to overfishing.

The changes mean that previously unconstrained finfish such as pink maomao are now part of the combined daily bag limit, allowing for reasonable recreational take while reducing the risk of overfishing that could affect sustainability. The new rules are also more consistent across the country making them easier to follow.

So, what is it that’s changing and when?

All finfish, excluding specified bait fish and freshwater eels, will now be part of the recreational combined daily limit.

The new rules come into effect on 5 May 2022.

There are some species that have individual daily limits, such as kingfish which has a daily limit of three per person, per day. These individual limits will be retained but included within the combined daily bag limit and must also not be exceeded. For example, a fisher in the Auckland, Kermadec, and the Central and Challenger Fisheries Management Areas can take three kingfish and up to 17 other finfish to make up their daily limit of 20.

The southern bluefin tuna daily bag limit of one per person, per day, has been brought under the Fisheries (Amateur Fishing) Regulations 2013. Previously, anyone taking excess southern bluefin tuna was issued with a warning or faced prosecution, but now Fisheries Officers will be able to issue infringements as they would for excess take of other finfish species.

Finfish combined daily bag limit

For the North Island and west coast of the South Island (Auckland, Kermadec, and the Central and Challenger Fisheries Management Areas) all finfish species, including those with individual species limit, are now part of a combined daily bag limit of 20 finfish per person, per day.

For the east and south of the South Island (South east Southland and sub–Antarctic Fisheries Management Areas) all finfish species, including those with individual species limit, are now part of the combined daily bag limit of 30 finfish per person, per day.

In addition to the combined daily bag limit for finfish, fishers may take:

Six freshwater eels per person, per day, and 

A combined daily bag limit of 50 specified baitfish per person, per day.

What are baitfish?

Fishers can take a maximum of 50 baitfish combined, per person, per day. Only the following species are considered baitfish: 

• Anchovy 

• Jack/Horse/Chilean mackerel 

• Koheru/Scad 

• Pilchard 

• Piper/Garfish 

• Slender/Stout sprat 

• Yellow-eyed mullet

More information and keeping up with the rules

Updates and information about these changes can be found on MPI’s website

at: mpi.govt.nz recfishing-consultation.

To keep up to date with the recreational fishing rules download the free NZ Fishing Rules App mpi.govt.nz/rules.

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