Policy for Marine Recreational Fisheries
message from the Minister of Fisheries
My Ministry has the responsibility to manage and conserve our fisheries
and fishery resources for the benefit of all New Zealanders. Ensuring
that everyone is able to enjoy and benefit from these resources
is a complex and demanding task. I want to assure you it is a task
which we are both committed to and capable of achieving.
The Quota Management System is now in place for controlling the
commercial component of the sustainable catch. This system ensures
fish stocks are conserved for present and future generations.
The Recreational Fisheries Policy I am now releasing can be seen
as the first step in a programme which will address the needs of
the recreational fishery. It is not a set of rules and regulations
governing recreational fishing; it is a set of principles which
will provide a framework for specific management measures to be
introduced in the regions, to meet regional needs and local conditions.
The cornerstone of the policy is presented in the first national
objective: to ensure recreational users have access to a
reasonable share of fishery resources. Government's position is
clear, where a species of fish is not sufficiently abundant to support
both commercial and non-commercial fishing, preference will be given
to non-commercial fishing. This position reflects Government's resolve
to ensure all New Zealanders can enjoy and benefit from our fisheries.
New Zealand is now recognised as a world leader in commercial fisheries
management. This policy ensures we are at the forefront of recreational
fisheries policy as well.
Minister of Fisheries
NATIONAL POLICY FOR MARINE RECREATIONAL
In New Zealand, where the majority of the population lives close
to the sea, recreational fishing and shellfish gathering are popular
pursuits. Recreational fishing occurs along most parts of the coast
that are reasonably accessible by boat or car, being most intensive
close to major urban areas in northern New Zealand.
Historically, management of recreational fishing has been designed
to prevent amateurs from taking excessive quantities of seafood
and from catching small or immature fish and shellfish. Current
restrictions on amateurs include size limits, closed seasons, daily
catch limits on the number of shellfish, rock lobsters and finfish,
and limits on the amount or type of fishing gear that may be used.
Under the Fisheries Act 1908 there was little potential for active
management of recreational fisheries. By contrast, the Fisheries
Act 1983 provides for a more integrated approach to the management
of New Zealand's fishery resources and for the balancing of the
needs of different user groups including recreational, commercial
and traditional users. Fishery management plans are being developed
regionally for each Fishery Management Area to contain the management
objectives and controls for each area.
The development and implementation of the Quota Management System
for commercial fisheries has been an important step in improving
long-term conservation and management of New Zealand's fishery resources.
After allowing for non- commercial catches, this scheme introduces
and upper limit or total allowable catch (TAC) on the amount of
fish that may be taken by the commercial sector for most commercially
important species. The TAC's allocated amongst fishers as Individual
Transferable Quotas (ITQ). Each ITQ is, in effect, a tradable harvesting
property right - a right to catch a certain quantity of fish each
year. Fishers wishing to leave the industry or restructure their
fishing operation are able to sell or trade their quotas. Collectively,
the total of all ITQs cannot exceed the TAC for each species, effectively
conserving the stocks.
The more urgent needs in the commercial sector have now been addressed
through the Quota Management System. It is now appropriate to address
other management needs such as marine recreational fisheries.
Purpose of the Marine Recreational Fisheries Policy
This policy provides a national framework for the management of
marine recreational fisheries by clearly stating the objectives
of management and the means by which the Ministry of Agriculture
and Fisheries (MAF) will achieve those objectives. Specific management
objectives and measures will be developed for each region in Fishery
Management Plans. Regional strategies for recreational fisheries
will contain the detailed management proposals based on the techniques
outlined in Section C of this policy. These include individual daily
catch limits, closed areas and seasons, and gear restrictions.
Scope of Policy
This policy applies to all marine recreational fisheries including
fish, shellfish, rock lobsters and other invertebrates collected
for food. It will also apply to species which are dependent for
only part of their life cycle on the sea and may be caught either
in marine or estuarine areas, for example grey mullet, eels and
flounder. The policy will only apply to acclimatised species in
areas outside the control of acclimatisation societies and wildlife
The policy addresses both extractive and non-extractive recreational
uses, including big- game fishing, tourist or charter fishing, diving
and passively observing or photographing marine life. It also addresses
fisheries of importance to local communities which depend on fish
and shellfish as a significant source of food.
The needs of non-extractive users will also be met through the establishment
of marine protected areas by the Department of Conservation. These
may improve the quality of recreational fishing or, alternatively,
allow greater control over certain recreational fishing activities
where these are having an adverse impact on an area.
Maori fishery values are not specifically addressed in this policy.
MAF recognises the special spiritual and cultural relationships
between Maori, the sea and the food it provides. Many aspects of
these relationships cannot be adequately addressed in a policy statement
dealing with recreational fishing activities.
The recreational fisheries policy should be regarded as one part
of an overall planning process to manage the fishery resources of
New Zealand. This process will formulate policies and implement
measures which also cover the other user groups.
Structure of the policy statement
This policy comprises three parts:
Part A sets out the overall aim
and national goals for fisheries management. These apply to all
fisheries and user groups. The aspects of management addressed by
the national goals are: resource and habitat conservation, allocation
of the fishery resources, and the economic and social implications
Part B sets out the national goal
for management of recreational fishing, the three principles which
are fundamental to the recreational fishing policy, the national
objectives for management of recreational fisheries, and how they
will be achieved.
Part C outlines management techniques
appropriate for recreational fisheries and the criteria that will
be used in their application.
A. NATIONAL AIM AND GOALS FOR FISHERIES
To ensure that the fishery resources of New Zealand are conserved
and managed for the maximum benefit of the nation.
To conserve, protect and enhance living marine and freshwater resources
and the habitats on which they depend.
To maximise the economic and social benefits from fisheries.
B. NATIONAL GOAL, OBJECTIVES AND POLICIES
FOR MARINE RECREATIONAL FISHERIES
To maintain or improve marine recreational fisheries
This recognises the importance of recreational fishing in New Zealand.
Management of recreational fisheries needs to be active and incorporated
in the overall management of New Zealand's fisheries resources as
pert of the fishery management responsibilities of the Ministry
of Agriculture and Fisheries (MAF). In particular, there is a need
to counter the adverse effects of over fishing on recreational fisheries.
Fisheries which have not been depleted by over fishing, must be
managed to ensure opportunities for recreational fishing are maintained.
The following three principles form the basis of the policy on recreational
- All New Zealanders can benefit from a well managed fishery resource.
Management of fishery resources must seek to balance social, cultural,
environmental and economic costs and benefits arising from different
- Management of recreational fisheries should be consistent with
the biological objectives of fisheries management.
Biological objectives of fisheries management include preventing
depletion of fish stocks caused by over fishing, minimising wastage,
reducing fishing mortality on juvenile fish and managing for long
term sustainable yields from fish stocks.
- The public has the right to reasonable recreational access to
The present rights of non-commercial fishers to fish in any waters
will be maintained except where fishing activity needs to be restricted
for conservation purposes or for public health and safety reasons.
For example, restrictions on fishing may be necessary because
of the state of fish or shellfish stocks, their ability to withstand
harvesting pressure and seasonal variations in their condition
or quality. Licensing of non-commercial users is considered inappropriate
for marine recreational fisheries.
NATIONAL OBJECTIVES AND POLICIES
- To ensure that recreational users have access to a reasonable
share of fishery resources.
- To ensure that the recreational portion of the resource is shared
as equitably as possible amongst recreational users.
- To improve, where possible, the quality of recreational fishing.
- To reduce conflict within and among fishery user groups
- To increase participation by recreational users in the management
of recreational fishing.
- To increase public awareness and knowledge of the marine environment
and the need for conservation of fishery resources.
- To improve management of recreational fisheries
- To maintain current tourist fisheries and encourage the development
of new operations where appropriate
- To prevent depletion of resources in areas where local communities
are dependent on the sea as a source of food.
The nine national objectives detailed with their policies are:
1. Allocation to recreational users
To ensure that recreational users have access to a reasonable
share of fishery resources
Allocation of fishery resources should reflect the most beneficial
use of the resource. Historically, many fishery resources have supported
recreational fisheries. This objective recognises the benefits of
maintaining recreational fisheries by means of an allocation to
recreational users. This allocation may take the form of a share
of the sustainable yield or as areas which are set aside primarily
for recreational fishing.
For most inshore species
allocation to the commercial sector is determined through the Quota
Management System (by Total Allowable Catches allocated as Individual
Transferable Quotas). Under the Fisheries Act 1983 the TAC which
is available for commercial fishing is set only after allowing for
Maori, traditional, recreational and other non-commercial interests
in the fishery.
Preference will be given to non-commercial fishing in areas readily
accessible to and popular with the public, where a species is not
sufficiently abundant to support both non- commercial and commercial
2. Allocation within recreational sector
To ensure that the recreational portion of the resource
is shared as equitably as possible amongst recreational users.
As well as allocating to commercial, recreational and other sectors
of the fishery, it is important to ensure that the resource available
to recreational users is shared as fairly as possible amongst them.
Individual daily catch
limits will be used to promote a fair distribution of the available
resource amongst recreational users and thus provide the right to
a reasonable catch for each recreational fisher.
Restrictions on the amounts
and types of fishing gear that may be used will be retained, or
modified where appropriate, to prevent excessive quantities of fish
or shellfish being caught. In certain areas, restrictions on the
use of bulk fishing methods, such as set lines and nets, may be
3.Quality of recreational fishing
To improve, where possible, the quality of recreational
The quality of recreational fishing is usually assessed in terms
of the size of fish, their availability and hence the likelihood
of fishing success. When assessing the availability of fish and
shellfish, both distribution and local abundance are important.
The quality of many recreational
fisheries has declined in recent years as a result of the depletion
of fish stocks. In some fisheries the average size of fish caught
has declined with increasing fishing pressure.
MAF will maintain and,
where practicable, improve the quality of recreational fishing by
means of the following:
- Where desirable, fisheries will be managed to provide for an
increase in the average size of fish. This will involve the use
of minimum legal sizes and appropriate gear restrictions to reduce
catches of small fish or shellfish.
- The abundance of fish will be improved by the restriction of
commercial catches to sustainable levels (or lower levels to allow
rebuilding of stressed stocks) through the use of Total Allowable
- Restrictions on commercial and/or recreational fishing activities
may be used in areas of particular importance for recreational
- Fishery habitats will be protected to ensure maintenance of
resources and fishing grounds.
4. Conflict between user groups
To reduce conflict within and among fishery user groups
MAF will identify major areas of conflict between user groups and
will encourage the resolution of those conflicts through consultation
and the implementation of appropriate management.
Conflict between fishery user groups varies with different fisheries.
Examples of frequent types of conflict are:
- Some commercial methods may cause local depletion of fish stocks
important to recreational users and thus may detrimentally affect
- Physical gear conflicts may arise between commercial and non-commercial
fishing activities in areas subject to intensive fishing.
- Conflict may arise within the recreational sector, for example
between extractive and non-extractive users.
- Conflict may arise between recreational and other resource users,
for example reclamations, mining, forestry, marine farming.
Conflict resolution is a key issue in the allocation and management
of resources. The considered use of a range of allocation measures,
rather than simply zoning either "in" or "out",
is seen as the wisest approach. Conflicts between competing users
may be simply resolved by mutual understanding or may require the
selective use of time, method or area separations.
5. Public participation in management
To increase participation by recreational users in the management
of recreational fishing.
Measures which will have an impact on either commercial or recreational
use of fishery resources must have wide publicity and debate. The
present network used for consultation by MAF in the fishery management
planning process includes both regional and local committees.
Currently there are five
regional fishery management advisory committees (FISHMACs) made
up of representatives appointed by the Minister, including members
representing commercial, processing, wholesaling, retailing, recreational,
Maori and consumer interests. There are also over 20 sub-regional
fisheries liaison committees throughout the country which are made
up of representatives chosen by the user groups themselves. These
provide a more local perspective than the regional committees, and
also have representation from both commercial and non-commercial
MAF will continue to seek the active involvement of recreational
user groups in the management of recreational fisheries. MAF will
investigate ways of further improving opportunities for public consideration
of and input into management proposals affecting recreational fisheries.
The existing consultative network will be maintained and, where
To increase public awareness and knowledge of the marine
environment and the need for conservation of fishery resources.
Fisheries resources are limited and the level of harvest may need
to be restricted to ensure conservation of the resource. The success
of controls on recreational fishing will depend largely on the degree
of public acceptance. Therefore it is important to explain the need
for controls and the way these will be achieve management objectives.
MAF will encourage better understanding of the objectives of fisheries
management and the ways in which they may be achieved by:
- Improving the availability of information for the public on
fisheries resources and their management
- Publicising the management measures relating to recreational
fishing and the reasons for controls.
- Developing active educational programmes to promote awareness
of the marine environment and the need for conservation.
7. Improved management of recreational fisheries
To improve management of recreational fisheries
In the past, lack of information has often inhibited management
of recreational fishing.
MAF will develop regional programmes for further investigation of
recreational fishing. Through these programmes MAF will:
- Obtain baseline data on habitat, resources, recreational catch
and catch rates, and monitor changes so that the impact of commercial
and recreational fishing on fishery resources can be measured.
- Identify the needs of recreational users, including non-extractive
- Assess the economic significance of recreational fisheries
In the past, measures were generally introduced to reduce catches
from stressed stocks or to protect juvenile fish and shellfish.
In the future these resources will be managed more actively by setting
objectives for recreational fisheries and implementing strategies
to achieve these objectives.
MAF will address the needs of recreational users on a regional basis
through Fishery Management Plans. In developing management systems
for recreational fisheries MAF will promote controls which are simple
and, as far as practical, consistent throughout New Zealand.
To maintain current tourist fisheries and encourage the
development of new operations where appropriate
To date, the development of tourist operations based on marine fisheries
has been limited to a few areas (for example big game fishing in
Northland and the Bay of Plenty, fishing in the Marlborough Sounds,
and dive charter operations in various parts of New Zealand). There
is potential for greater development of these and other types of
charter fishing operations catering for both domestic and overseas
tourists. These will provide alternative and additional sources
of economic benefits from New Zealand's fishery resources.
MAF will endeavour to maintain existing tourist fisheries where
there are good economic reasons for doing so. MAF will also investigate,
in conjunction with relevant authorities and interests, areas proposed
by the tourist industry as having potential for the development
of tourist fishing operations. In investigating proposals MAF will
- The economic value of tourist fishing;
- Changes to current management practices that would be necessary
or desirable to protect and develop tourist fishing;
- The impacts on current fishing activities from any changes in
the management regime.
Techniques which could be used to provide for tourist fishing requirements
include the selective exclusion of fishing methods from certain
areas. Any areas promoted for tourist- fishing purposes will remain
open to other recreational users using appropriate methods.
Tourist operations centred on non-extractive users will be catered
for mainly by the establishment of marine reserves in which no fishing
will generally be permitted. In addition, restrictions on fishing
may be introduced in other areas of potential tourist value to protect
marine life of special interest to people engaging in passive observation,
diving and photography.
9. Prevention of depletion in local areas
To prevent depletion of resources in areas where local communities
are dependent on the sea as a source of food.
In many coastal parts of New Zealand, small isolated communities
are dependent to a significant degree on locally caught fish and
shellfish as a source of food. Depletion of these resources could
adversely affect these communities.
MAF will identify areas containing important subsistence fisheries
and consult with the local communities dependent on those fisheries
so that their concerns can be taken into account. Where local communities
are significantly dependent on fish or shellfish as a source of
food, MAF will seek ways of maintaining the local availability of
C. MANAGEMENT TECHNIQUES FOR MARINE RECREATIONAL
Techniques that may be used for managing recreational fisheries
and their purposes are outlined below. Criteria which will be used
in the application of these techniques are also outlined.
1. Catch limits.
Daily catch limits are currently imposed on all shellfish species
commonly taken by amateurs, most finfish species, on rock lobsters
and on kina. Amateur catch limits serve the following purposes:
- To ensure the resource is shared more equitably amongst users
whilst allowing for each fisher to take a reasonable catch
- To reduce pseudo-amateur fishing
- To encourage responsibility amongst recreational users to conserve
the resource and to prevent the wastage of surplus catch.
- To prevent local depletion of stocks and so improve the quality
The following criteria will be used in determining daily catch limits:
- Daily catch limits should allow each fisher to take a reasonable
catch but should not encourage wastage or commercialism
- In stressed fisheries, it may be necessary to set lower daily
limits to allow for stock rebuilding. Where stock levels are very
low and the fishery is primarily recreational, the fishery may
need to be closed to all users until stocks rebuild.
- Reasonable consistency in daily catch limits throughout New
Zealand will be maintained while recognising regional management
- The fishing method usually used to catch a particular species.
For those species normally caught by net, a low daily quota may
result in wastage when a greater number of fish are caught and
have to be returned dead to the sea.
2. Closed areas
Closure of areas may apply to commercial and/or recreational fishing
and may be selective as to method or species.
They may be established
under the Fisheries Act promulgated by MAF or the Marine Reserves
Act administered by the Department of Conservation and will serve
one or more of the following purposes:
- To provide refuge areas for small fish or protect fish and shellfish
at other vulnerable stages of the life cycle.
- To maintain areas in a natural state for non-extractive users.
- To reduce conflict between user groups
- To improve the quality of recreational fishing
- To protect important fish habitats
The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries will liaise with the Department
of Conservation to assist in the establishment of Marine Protected
Areas. The Fisheries Act 1983 allows for closure of areas through
fisheries regulations. These regulations are given effect and can
be removed by the Minister of Fisheries. Closures under the Marine
Reserve Act require declaration by the Governor-General following
an Order in Council. Marine reserves are generally held to be established
The Fisheries Act rather than the Marine Reserves Act will be used
to close areas where greater flexibility in management is important
or where the primary purpose of the closed areas is to reduce significant
conflicts between the recreational and commercial sectors. The types
of restrictions on fishing will depend on the type of conflict.
3. Gear restriction.
Current restrictions on the fishing gear used by amateurs include
minimum mesh sizes for nets and limits on the size, amounts of type
of gear that may be used, or the way in which it may be used. MAF
will retain gear restrictions for the following purposes:
- To avoid wastage of fish by bulk catching methods
- To protect small fish
- To prohibit techniques which are damaging or non-selective
- To prevent local depletion of fish and shellfish stocks
Changes to current restrictions will be considered where they are
not effective or where other controls will achieve the above objectives.
Major changes to the type of gear used, for example mesh size for
set nets, will only be introduced where they are likely to have
substantial benefits for the fishery.
4. Size limits
Minimum legal size limits are prescribed for a number of fish and
- To protect small fish and thereby increase the sustainable yield
from the resource (consistent with objectives for the overall
management including the commercial fisheries).
- To ensure an adequate spawning stock is available for future
- To improve the quality of fishing by:
- Increasing the average size of the fish or shellfish caught
where appropriate, and
- Ensuring the fish or shellfish of an attractive edible size
are available to recreational users.
5. Closed seasons
Closed seasons are currently used for a limited number of fish and
shellfish species. They may serve one or more of the following purposes:
- To protect the species when it is particularly vulnerable to
fishing (for example, soft shelled or egg carrying rock lobsters).
- To ensure the resource is harvested when it is in optimum condition
- To restrict the total catch of stressed stocks.
Recreational fisheries are part of our national heritage. The first
responsibility of Government, recreational fishers and individual
citizens, is to ensure their protection and perpetuation. Others
who follow us will benefit from what we do today. Protecting these
fisheries and their habitats, promoting responsible use of the resources
and maintaining and developing recreational opportunities makes
sense for us and for future generations.
In recognising the importance of the marine recreational fisheries,
this policy provides a starting point for a cooperative approach
between Government and resource users to work together to realise
the potential of these national resources.