Contribute here
Get updates by email


SOS - Save Our Snapper


Together we showed that fisheries

decisions are important to

ordinary New Zealanders.

Next stop - Election 2014

  Watch the TV one interview with Richard Baker on the new snapper rules.
LegaSea Media LegaSea campaign
  TV one interview - new rules for snapper What is Save Our Snapper all about?
  Unfair snapper rules take effect The options - what's the guts of it?
  TVNZ interview on Minister's decision What do the options mean?
  Who are the rednecks? Our initial response
  Snapper decision falls short Frequently Asked Questions - Snapper 1
Minister's snapper 1 decision Official Info Act request - snapper
The Minister's Snapper 1 decision
Recommendations to Minister What are the impacts?
MPI recommendations for Snapper 1
NZSFC/LegaSea Snapper 1 rebuild policy LegaSea's role
NZSFC/LegaSea Snapper 1 submission

TV one interview New snapper rules - Richard Baker

TV one interview Richard Baker to find out why recreational fishers are concerned about the new snapper rules applying in Area 1. There are lots of small fish inshore and many people will miss out taking fish home if all they catch is below the new 30cm minimum size limit. LegaSea has major concerns with increased wastage and mortality associated with fish being caught and released back into the water in poor condition.

Watch the TV one interview with Richard Baker on the affects of the new snapper rules



Media statement - Unfair snapper rules take effect

LegaSea media release calling on amateur fishers to comply with the new snapper bag and size limits that will come into effect on April Fool's day, even though many believe they are unfair.

LegaSea spokesperson, Richard Baker, says, "Many recreational fishers are concerned the measures they are being asked to take will simply not achieve conservation and enhancement of the fishery, especially when the fish they throw back may die or can be harvested by the fishing industry".

LegaSea media release - unfair snapper rules take effect is here



TVNZ interview Snapper 1 decision - Mandy Kupenga

Mandy Kupenga is interviewed on Breakfast TV and discusses the Minister's final decision for Snapper 1. This video provides a good insight into the underlying issues around Snapper 1 management and what needs to be done to rebuild the fishery so there are more and bigger fish available for all interests.

Watch the TVNZ interview with Mandy Kupenga on the final snapper decision.


Snapper 1 Official Info Act request

A letter to the MInister for Primary Industries, Nathan Guy, acknowledging his recent Snapper 1 decision. The NZ Sport Fishing Council & LegaSea reject the changes to recreational management controls, but are very pleased there is no increase in the Total Allowable Commercial Catch (TACC).

The crew are keen to understand the progress of the much-vaunted Precision Seafood Harvesting (PSH) trials. This Official Information Act (OIA) request seeks answers to a range of questions relating to mortality rates of juvenile fish and how, and if, they have improved with the new gear.

Official Information Act request and snapper letter is here


FAQs - Snapper 1 decision

What was the basis for the Minister's Snapper 1 decision?

What's our view of the decision?

And what are the positives?

These and other Frequently Asked Questions about the Snapper 1 decision here....


Nathan Guy's Snapper 1 decision

Nathan Guy, the Minister for Primary Industries explains in this letter why he has taken two fish off our bag limit and increased the minimum size limit for recreational fishers, but not changed commercial catch limits or their 25cm minimum size limit.

Worth a read on day not conducive to fishing.....Minister's Snapper 1 decision letter here


Ministry's Snapper 1 recommendations to the Minister

Some ground-breaking comments in this Final Advice Paper from the Ministry for Primary Industries to their Minister, Nathan Guy. This document sets out the rationale behind the Ministry's recommendations and offers the MInister several management choices.

Read the Ministry's Snapper 1 Final Advice Paper here... It's a biggie so find a comfy seat and get stuck in.


Who are the rednecks? LegaSea opinion piece

Kiwis love to fish. We do it for recreation, to put some sanity back into our busy lives and to take home a modest, healthy feed for our family. Commercial quota accounts for 98% of all allocated catch entitlement so it is only natural that fair-minded Kiwis are standing their ground when faced with government proposals to reduce their access to the remaining fish stocks.


Snapper decision falls short - LegaSea

LegaSea say recreational fishers are rightfully angry that their daily bag limits have been cut from nine to seven and the minimum legal size has been increased, from 27 to 30cm, when there is no change to commercial catch limits.

Recent research shows that around 40% of people who fish in the Snapper 1 area fish from the beach or rocks. Many of these people rely on what they catch to feed their families.

Read the Minister, Nathan Guy's, Snapper 1 decision letter here....



Conservation and the snapper 1 policy

Recreational fishers have a demonstrable record in rebuilding the Snapper 1 fishery. This conservation ought to be the basis of a new management plan to rebuild Snapper 1 to 40% of original biomass.

With an agreed plan in place we can implement our Snapper 1 policy, to achieve 40% biomass (B0), by promoting achievable and affordable actions to restore the fishery. Reducing juvenile mortality and wastage is critical to success; as is research and consultation on further voluntary measures the public could embrace to better look after the environment and to accelerate the rebuild.


Snapper 1 submission

The New Zealand Sport Fishing Council/LegaSea submission acknowledges this process is not about sustainability, as Snapper 1 is rebuilding. This process has been about allocation, who gets access to the improved fishery.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has committed to helping the primary industries to double the value of exports by 2025.

The NZ Sport Fishing Council has committed to rebuilding the fishery to around double what it is now, to about 40% of its unfished size. This will require the commercial catch limit, the TACC, to remain at its current level of 4500 tonnes. It will also require the public to conserve fish and get smarter about how we catch fish and use those fish we take home.

Also, all trawl methods need to be immediately removed from near-shore nursery areas and areas of fragile benthic features.

MPI's proposal paper offered a range of size limit increases and bag limit decreases. The NZSFC Snapper 1 submission explains these were merely a smokescreen deliberately designed to divert attention away from the allocation issue and the reality that there will be ever-decreasing bag limits if the public is given an allocation as opposed to an adjustable allowance, that changes as our population grows.

Snapper 1 is primarily a food fishery. Kiwi families must be able to access a regular, healthy meal of fish to provide for their wellbeing. The NZ Sport Fishing Council strongly objects to these changes that take fish from Kiwi families simply to protect quota owners' interests, to increase export value, and to insulate the Minister and MPI from their lawful obligations.



What is Save Our Snapper all about?

New Zealand is faced with rebuilding the snapper 1 fishery for future generations (see stock status).

On 12 July 2013 the Ministry for Primary Industries issued a discussion paper that includes three main options for the future management of the Snapper 1 (SNA1) fishery that spans east Northland, the Hauraki Gulf and Bay of Plenty. 

To continue rebuilding the snapper 1 fishery more fish need to be conserved.  The Ministry proposal is to place responsibility for this on the public of New Zealand, not the commercial sector.

Since 1984 public fishers have taken four bag limit cuts and a size limit increase – yet commercial quota is still at levels similar to 1986.

If the Ministry and the government are successful with ANY of their proposed options it will set a dangerous precedent for all NZ fisheries.

This is about fighting for our rights as the people of New Zealand to be treated fairly and equitably by our own government representatives.   We can longer allow our environment or future to be compromised by the single-minded pursuit of short term economic gains.


The options - what's the guts of it?

All management options suggested by the Ministry will have a significant, negative impact on the people of New Zealand while only contributing less than 1% to rebuilding the fishery in the next five years.

  • Option 1 =  recreational catch reduction of 24% No change to commercial quota.
  • Option 2 =  recreational catch reduction of 19% 7% increase to commercial quota.
  • Option 3 =  recreational catch reduction of 30% 7% decrease to commercial quota.

These options will be put in place by MPI imposing a mixture of lower daily bag limits and increased minimum size limits for recreational fishers. (See Table 1)

We oppose all options presented by the Ministry. They effectively constrain us to an allowance that was made 16 years ago!  This approach by Ministry is fundamentally flawed.  See more on this below.


The proposed options

Table 1: Existing and proposed TACs, TACCs and allowances for Snapper 1, in tonnes (t).

ministrys snapper 1 proposals
* Click on the above table to view a larger version

The Ministry has estimated current recreational catch at around 3365 tonnes (vs the 1997 allowance of 2300 tonnes).

Ministry have called for feedback, submissions are due by 23rd August.  In September the Minister for Primary Industries, Nathan Guy, will make a decision on what (if any) changes will be made.

Prior to the 23rd August deadline we will send you a CALL TO ACTION so you can make a submission via our website.  It’s easy and quick. It’s time to fight for change!


Interpreting the Ministry's options - key terms explained

Total Allowable Catch (TAC) is the total amount of fish that can be caught and killed in a year, in a particular fish stock. The Minister decides on this tonnage before considering how that is apportioned between recreational, customary (Maori) and commercial interests.

By law the Minister is supposed consult interested parties before setting the TAC, then set aside an allowance to provide for recreational and Maori interests, and then finally, set the TACC (Total Allowable Commercial Catch or Quota).

A quota is set to constrain commercial fishing.  Commercial fishers are allocated a fixed tonnage of fish. Financial penalties are incurred if they exceed their quota.

Unlike commercial fishers, recreational and customary fishers do not have a quota. This is a critical point.  An allowance is made by the Minister to provide or ‘allow for’ recreational and customary interests and their future needs. A quota can be set to zero, but it would take a brave Minister to do so.  

It is not possible to “overfish” an allowance yet all the proposed options are based on fitting recreational catch back into the allowance made in 1997. The 1997 allowance was flawed because it was based on an estimated 10% of the NZ population fishing.  It is now widely accepted that approximately 20% of the population go fishing during the year.  Numerous studies support this.


What do the options mean?

Option 1 'Status Quo'

Total Allowable Catch (TAC), commercial quota and recreational and customary allowances for snapper 1 remains the same as what it was in 1997. 

What this means for recreational fishers

Ministry argues that our current catch exceeds the allowance by 24%.  They propose decreasing our current catch levels by slashing bag limits and/or increasing size limits. 

We maintain the original allowance was wrong and cannot be used as a basis for any new decision. Any new allowance must take into account increased population and catches in a rebuilding fishery. 

The fact that the Ministry refer to option 1 as being the 'Status Quo' when it's only really the status quo for commercial interests, and not at all status quo for recreational fishers, shows precisely where their heads are at eg. so focused on keeping the commercial sector happy that they are blind to the interests of other parties.

What this means for the commercial sector

No change to quota.
No change to minimum legal size (currently 25cm).
No change to damaging fishing methods that are killing hundreds of thousands of juvenile fish each year.

Winner option 1 = Commercial


Option 2

Increase TAC by 500 tonnes.
Increase commercial quota to 4820 tonnes.
Increase recreational allowance to 2730 tonnes (still well short of current catch around 3365 tonnes).

What this means for recreational fishers

Slight increase in allowance from 1997 but still an overall catch decrease of 19%.
Impose restrictions of 4 fish at 27cm or larger or 9 fish at 35cm or larger (see Table 1).

What this means for the commercial sector

INCREASE in quota by 7%.
No change to min legal size (25cm).
No change to damaging fishing methods that are killing hundreds of thousands of juvenile fish.

Winner option 2 = Commercial


Option 3

Reduce TAC by 500 tonnes.

What this means for recreational fishers

Decrease to 1997 allocated allowance and decrease our catch by 30%.
Impose restrictions of 3 fish at 27cm or larger or 9 fish at 36cm or larger (see Table 1).

What this means for the commercial sector

Reduction in quota by 7%.
No change to minimum legal size (25cm).
No change to damaging fishing methods that are killing hundreds of thousands of juvenile fish.

Winner option 3 = No clear winner but we're the biggest loser.


All of the options -

  • Reduce customary allowance from 300 tonnes to 50 tonnes.
  • Do not address the wider economic impact these changes will have on the recreational fishing and marine industry, such as retail, bait, tackle & gear suppliers, charter boat operators, boat manufacturers, accommodation and tourism providers.
  • Use the Ministry’s preferred model of proportional allocation. This is a non-statutory approach, where recreational and commercial limits go up or down by the same percentage. Government policy is to grow the population, so it is inevitable that public fishing will reduce to 3 fish per day, then one per day - just to protect and reward the same commercial industry that catches hundreds of thousands of undersized snapper each year and dumps them over the side!


What this means for the snapper stock

Ministry predict the cuts to the recreational catch will not affect the stock status by more than 1% by 2018, which is less than the margin of error


Our initial response

  • No cuts to bag limits or increases in minimum size limits are acceptable UNLESS these are accompanied by measures to improve all sector’s fishing practices, to prevent juvenile fish being killed through bulk harvesting methods (trawling and seining), dumping of legal sized fish, and gut hooking of undersized fish.
  • Identification and closure of areas of high juvenile mortality to bulk harvesting methods (trawling and seining) is required.
  • A realistic recreational allowance that allows for what we currently catch, accounts for improving catch rates as the fishery rebuilds and provides for future generations’ needs.

There will be much more to come in this space so stay tuned.


What are the main issues?

  • Historic commercial overfishing caused serious depletion and denied public access to a reasonable snapper fishery for many years. The Snapper 1 stock is now rebuilding.
  • Ministry proposals are biased towards protecting commercial catch while cutting the recreational allowance.
  • The Ministry fail to acknowledge recreational conservation efforts over 16 years to rebuild the SNA1 fishery.
  • Ministry is trying to squeeze recreational catch into an allowance that was set in 1997 and based on questionable recreational catch estimates.
  • Recreational fishers strongly object to proportional allocation of the TAC, as commercial quota and as a recreational allowance, in any of our fisheries.
  • Allowances must be able to vary with population changes and/or to allow for improvement in recreational fishing, the allowance was set low at a time when the stock was depleted. 
  • Ministry fails to take account of the potential loss to small and large businesses in the boat building and recreational marine industry. Government policy is to double primary industry export value by 2025.
  • No effort has been made to understand how recreational fishing contributes to the national economy, and how this fishing provides for the social, economic and cultural wellbeing of our communities.
  • The real issue is that too many snapper are being killed and wasted in this iconic fishery!


What are the impacts?

  • Recreational fishers will quickly be condemned to ever-reducing bag limits if we accept the Ministry’s options and their proportional policy, making our allowance a permanently fixed share of the TAC.
  • Participation rates will collapse as recreational fishing becomes uneconomic and people are squeezed out of the fishery in favour of commercial interests.
  • Land based, inshore and traditional fishers will be most affected by any proportional changes.
  • Major impacts on the marine and bait and tackle industry, boat builders, service providers, charter businesses and fishing media.


How you can help

Get ready for action! 

From early August you can send a submission from the LegaSea website to the Ministry, your local MP and the Minister for Primary Industries.

Tell you friends, family, work colleagues, dentist what’s happening here and encourage them to stand with us against the proposed options.

Come along to one of our LegaSea public meetings to find out more.


LegaSea's role

LegaSea is the public outreach brand of the New Zealand Sport Fishing Council. LegaSea raises awareness and campaigns around issues that affect recreational fishers, while the NZ Sport Fishing Council gets stuck into the grunt work of fisheries advocacy.

LegaSea provides you the opportunity to stand up for yourself, by voluntarily funding the work required to create fair outcomes to the way fisheries are managed in New Zealand.


More information

If you have any questions, information, feedback or suggestions please use the contact form or the following channels:

P: 0800 LEGASEA (534 273)


LegaSea : Mandy Kupenga 0800 LEGASEA (534 273)

NZ Sport Fishing Council spokesperson: Scott Macindoe 021 622463


Your valued support

If you appreciate the value of this work we would welcome your contribution. It's an easy process that we hope you will follow in the interests of achieving the LegaSea Vision of 'more fish in the water for future generations'.

You can contribute here » » »


Other helpful information

Stock Status:

  • The SNA1 stock has rebuilt and now exceeds the 1997 management target of 22% of original stock size, in some areas.
  • The stock is slowly rebuilding to the new management target of 40% of original size (B0).
  • Sub-stock status – East Northland 24% B0; Hauraki Gulf 24% B0; Bay of Plenty below 10% B0.


In 2008 the Ministry of Fisheries (now MPI) issued a Harvest Strategy Standard that defined default management targets for our fisheries.  The 40% target conforms to international standards.  Prior to 2008 the target was 20%.

We have a long way to go to reach the 40% target, and we need to start now if we are to leave a legacy of abundance for future generations!



  • Ministry and the fishing industry propose a fixed share of the TAC for recreational interests.
  •  The Minister must, however make a reasonable allowance for recreational interests.
  • Recreational interests include social, cultural, environmental and conservation aspects.
  • There must be a mechanism to acknowledge and reward conservation.
  • Any further cuts to recreational catches will be used to protect the commercial share of the snapper fishery.


On what basis was the 1997 recreational allowance set?

  • From 1 October 1994 recreational fishers’ longline hook numbers was halved, from 50 to 25.
  • In 1994 the minimum legal size for snapper was increased from 25 to 27cm, reducing recreational catch by an estimated 10%.
  • In 1995 the Minister decreased the Snapper 1 TACC by 39%, from 4938 to 3000 tonnes. This TACC applied in 1995 and 1996. Commercial fishers appealed against the decision in the High Court and Court of Appeal, and won.
  • From 1st October 1997 a fresh Ministerial decision and rebuild plan was implemented, this included:
    • A Total Allowable Catch (TAC) of 7550 tonnes (t).
    • A 9% reduction to the Total Allowable Commercial Catch (TACC), from 4938 to 4500 t.
    • Minimum legal size for commercial caught snapper retained at 25cm.
    • An allowance for illegal catch of 450 t.
    • A combined recreational and customary allowance of 2600 t.
    • A reduced recreational bag limit from 15 to 9, at 27cm. 
  • The 1994 controls and 1997 daily bag reductions for recreational fishers remain in 2013.


Join us on Twitter Find Us on Facebook  


Submissions Sent:


Total cc's:



Latest news

Seafood NZ snapper submission
Media release - Unfair rules take effect
Official Info Act request - snapper
Minister's Snapper 1 decision letter
Ministry's Advice Paper to Nathan Guy
Who are the rednecks?
LegaSea - Snapper decision falls short
Snapper 1 submission
Media release - fish fight far from over
LegaSea Snapper 1 flyer
Flyer - English & Traditional Chinese
Flyer - English & Simplified Chinese
Media release - Save Our Snapper
MPI meeting schedule
Snapper on the Line - media release
Letter to Ministry Snapper 1
LegaSea / NZSFC Snapper 1 policy
rod and reel
Salt Fly Fish
wave dancer snapper charters
black magic tackle
thompson walker
ngapuhi iwi
robert a conaghan
alexto sports 2000 limited
pure fishing
think creative
the fishing website
nz fishing news
itm fishing show
nz fishing world
bay fisher magazine
big fish pakuranga
chesters plumbing
diversity charters
capn hooks fishing rigs
sopers macindoe
fog dog batters
lower emissions
boaties tackle-IT
beach snapper

The Hokianga Accord supports the Snapper 1 policy. Click image to read more.

Photo credit: Scott Macindoe

snapper 1 policy
Click on the image to go the NZ Sport Fishing Council website