New rules to include all finfish in combined daily bag limit for recreational fishers

Rules for daily limits on recreationally caught finfish will change to include species that previously had no limit, Oceans and Fisheries Minister, David Parker announced today.

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

“I instructed my officials to review the daily bag limits for recreationally caught finfish following reports of people taking hundreds of pink maomao on one day last year,” David Parker said.

“Some of these species outside of bag limits weren’t previously targeted by recreational fishers. But there has been a change in what people now catch and eat and the rules need to be updated to reflect this.”

The changes mean that all finfish species will now be included in the combined daily bag limit for finfish. Finfish species with individual bag limits will also be included in the daily total. 

“This puts an end to excessive take which could affect the sustainability of a species and also makes the rules more consistent across the country and easier to follow.”

Public consultation on the changes ran from 6 October to 18 November 2021 and Fisheries New Zealand received 1,467 submissions from across a wide range of interests.

Specified baitfish and freshwater eels are not included, and have their own separate limits additional to the combined daily bag limit.

An example of a species with an individual daily limit is kingfish, which has a daily limit of three per angler. These individual limits will be retained but are now included within the combined daily bag limit.

For example, a fisher in the Auckland/Kermadec, Central or Challenger areas can take three kingfish and up to 17 other finfish to make up their daily limit of 20.

Southern bluefin tuna, which has a daily limit of one per person per day, will now be included in the amateur regulations.

Previously, anyone taking excess southern bluefin tuna was issued with a warning or faced prosecution, but now Fisheries Officers will be able to issue infringement notices.

Changes to the recreational daily bag limits take effect on 5 May 2022. Updates and information about these changes, including the specified baitfish species, can be found on MPI’s website at: https://www.mpi.govt.nz/recfishing-consultation.

Editors’ note:

Summary of the recreational combined daily bag limits:

  • 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 eel per person, per day, as part of the eel daily bag limit, and
  • 50 specified baitfish per person per day as part of the baitfish daily bag limit.

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