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Marlborough Sounds Blue cod

Changes for the future management of Marlborough Sounds blue cod have been announced.

Many of the new measures align with our joint submission made in June 2015.

The controversial 'slot rule' that saw thousands of dead and dying fish returned to the sea has been abandoned in favour of a new recreational minimum legal size of 33cm.

The seasonal closure from 1st September to 19th December now applies to commercial and recreational fishers.

LegaSea's view

Overall there are positive outcomes from this review process. Clearly there is more work to be done.

LegaSea is concerned the 70 tonne commercial catch limit remains intact while recreational fishers continue to bear the brunt of management changes.

Given the importance of blue cod in this region we believe the Minister must start making more balanced decisions for the sake of the fishery and local interests.

Summary of new rules

The Ministry for Primary Industries has issued a summary table outlining the new rules applying to blue cod fishing in the Marlborough Sounds and Challenger East areas.

These new rules will apply from 20 December 2015, when the fishery re-opens for the new season.


MPI summary of new rules is here.

Minister's Marlborough Sounds blue cod decision 14 Oct 15.

Advice to the Minister from the Blue Cod Management Group and Ministry officials, August 2015.

Joint recreational submission made in June 2015

Challenger (East) area (grey) and the Marlborough Sounds Blue cod management area (white).

In March and April 2015 several groups combined efforts to develop recommendations for the future management of Blue cod in the Marlborough Sounds and top of the South Island. Those groups included the:

  • Marlborough Recreational Fishers Association (MRFA)
  • Coalition of the Combined Clubs of Wellington (CCCW)
  • New Zealand Angling and Casting Association (NZACA); and
  • New Zealand Sport Fishing Council (NZSFC).

These groups then worked together to find an agreed response to the management proposals.


Joint submission - June 2015

A submission and recommendations for the future management of Marlborough Sounds blue cod was made to MPI on 30 June 2015.

This submission was a joint effort by the above groups representing more than 50,000 affiliated members. We submitted for consistent rules to apply across the top of the South Island, and both the transit rule and the slot rule needed to be abolished.

We also submitted the Marlborough Sounds blue cod stock needs rebuilding, and it was very important that MPI had public support for any new management measures.

Joint submission can be viewed here.

LegaSea supported the submission and recommendations because:

  1. They align with our Principles, specifically Principles 1, 2 and 4.
  2. The public wants to contribute to improving the state of the Marlborough Sounds Blue cod fishery.
  3. They will simplify management, encourage higher levels of compliance and help to reduce conflict between sectors and managers.

The Marlborough Recreational Fishers Association was formed in 1997 in response to controversial reduction to the snapper daily bag limits applied in the Marlborough Sounds. Today the Association advocates for more conservative fisheries management measures and reasonable public access to fisheries.

While the Association is based in Blenheim it promotes the social, economical and cultural wellbeings of local, regional and other visitors who have an interest in the ongoing management of the fisheries at the top of the South Island.


In May 2013, the Coalition of the Combined Clubs of Wellington (CCCW) was created to represent Wellington region recreational fishing and community groups. The CCCW member mandate is to have the current unsustainable Blue Cod fishery management rules replaced with a management regime that enhances Blue Cod fishery recovery and which can be supported by recreational fishers.  

CCCW member clubs and organisations, with a combined affiliated membership of over 20,000 people, include:

  1. Upper Hutt Cosmopolitan Club – Fishing and Boating Adjunct
  2. Mana Aquatic Divers
  3. Petone Working Men’s Club – Diving Adjunct
  4. Mana Cruising Club
  5. Twin Harbours Fishing Club
  6. Plimmerton Boating Club. 


New Zealand Angling and Casting Association
The New Zealand Angling and Casting Association is the representative body for its 35 member clubs throughout the North Island. The Association promotes recreational fishing and the camaraderie of enjoying the activity with fellow fishers. A national fishing and casting competition is held annually. The Association administers NZ fishing records and promotes youth involvement in fishing as a sport. The NZACA is committed to protecting fish stocks and representing its members’ right to fish. 


LegaSea is a public outreach initiative of the New Zealand Sport Fishing Council. The Council has an experienced fisheries management, science, policy and legal team. On behalf of the Council LegaSea raises funds and provides public-friendly information about a variety of processes that are important to the sustainable management of Blue cod stocks for future generations.  


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Important news

MPI summary of new rules Oct 2015
Joint recreational submission June 2015
Process documents and summaries June 2015
Ministry consultation paper June 2015
Summary of this review process April 2015
Background info - MS Blue cod Group Mar 2015
MS Blue cod management 2007-2011
MS Blue cod rules under scrutiny - TV3
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