PRINCIPLE 5 – Value recreational fishing

The situation

In a world where many political decisions are based on financial outcomes it is only fair and reasonable to ascertain the true value of recreational fishing, so that decisions can be balanced accordingly.

The Minister and Ministry for Primary Industries are responsible for allocating resources for recreation to a larger portion of the population than any other government department. Because the export earnings of commercial catch are available from Statistics NZ these tend to dominate any consideration of value from the fishery. This leads to a costly error.

A US study* found the value of recreationally-caught fish was $152 per pound compared to $2.20 for a commercially caught fish. This study has influenced a change in how some US fisheries are managed.

Our Ministry estimates 31% of New Zealanders participate in recreational fishing.

It would be highly beneficial for NZ if we were able to conduct a similar valuation study here. Our national economy could grow exponentially if we had a thriving recreational fishing industry.

And it’s not just the fish. For our population size we have a large fishing media contingent, numerous TV shows and movies, online and hardcore tackle supermarkets, world leading boat manufacturers and whole communities that rely on fishing for their income.

*Reference – Comparing NOAA’s Recreational and Commercial Fishing Economic Data. Report produced for the American Sportfishing Association. May 2013. Southwick Associates.

Why you

Let’s be clear, there is more to recreational fishing than just dollars and cents. It’s an important part of our heritage and culture and it enriches our lives when we can freely provide kai moana for our loved ones.

But all those “road” taxes paid on petrol that we use in our boats, the GST on fishing equipment we buy, boats we build and tourists we entertain must add up to something.

The US study demonstrated that recreational fishing is 69 times more valuable than commercial fishing, on a weight for weight basis, of fish harvested. It makes you wonder why this research hasn’t been done in NZ already?

It’s food for thought when you consider that recreational fishing accounts for less than 6% of the total catch each year in New Zealand. Just imagine what that would be worth!

LegaSea’s solution

LegaSea wants your support to Tip the Scales, you can help us advocate for research to establish how much recreational fishing contributes to the national economy.

Even rough estimates indicate a huge contribution.

Let’s put the speculation to bed. Let’s get some proper research into the value of recreational fishing.


In several overseas jurisdictions economic studies have been commissioned that compare the size of the economies of commercial and recreational fishing. These studies are recognising the huge advantage national economies receive from public fishing in inshore stocks. This methodology needs to be applied to NZ before any more attempts are made to exclude or reduce public fishing.


1. Commit to resourcing full and proper research in order to establish an economic value of recreational fishing.

Note: This is work that needs to be undertaken independent of MPI. The NZSFC and Marine Research Foundation stand by to coordinate and supervise this work and deliver both outstanding value and definitive results.

All activities that add to the economy of recreational fishing.

This includes per trip costs such as travel, food, bait, ice, burley, tackle and capital investment in boats, fishing rods, reels. Then there is the range of fishing media, tourism, entertainment, TV, videos, contests, festivals, community hubs based around fishing clubs. The list is huge.

There is a complex table of multipliers used that averages out the economic contribution of each fisher.

Comprehensive research was carried out in 2011 to examine the economic impacts of recreational and commercial fishing in the US, on a comparative weight basis.

The study revealed that on a weight for weight basis the value added from commercial landings of species also sought by recreational fishers was $2.20. In comparison, the value added, on a same-weight basis, from recreational fishing was $152.24.

Added value from commercial landings of finfish also sought by recreational fishers was $10.6B. Value added from all recreational species was estimated to be $32.4B

Reference – Comparing NOAA’s Recreational and Commercial Fishing Economic Data. Report produced for the American Sportfishing Association. May 2013. Southwick Associates.

These studies have been used by Governments in the USA, Panama, Costa Rica, and others, to inform allocation decisions. Like the NZ government, all these other countries are attracted to maximising the value available from their marine resources and have struggled to find ways to inform allocation decisions. In each case where this study method has been used governments have acted by altering allocation decisions to increase value.

In New Zealand fisheries have high social, economic and cultural value. Quantifying the contribution that recreational fishing makes to the national economy will add to our knowledge base and improve decision making.

A well-founded study could be used to underpin the need to rebuild our fisheries, to attract tourist dollars, to build local ventures based around fishing and to contribute billions of dollars to our national wealth.

1. The competition is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook

2. By entering the competition you offer facebook full release from any liability that may eventuate

3. Closing date for entries is 7pm on Sunday 24th August 2014. Winner announced within 5 days

4. Up to 2 entries max per person.

5. Winner is picked at random out of all winning entries

6. If no winning entries are received, then LegaSea reserves the right to either withold the prize or pick a winner based on what LegaSea decides as the best entry. This is at the sole discretion of LegaSea and no corresepondence will be entered into – so don’ t be a knob about it, ok.

7. Only entries that are received on the LegaSea facebook post are eligible for the competition.

8. There is only one prize

9. The prize consists of 1 LegaSea hoody, 1 LegaSea t-shirt, 1 LegaSea hutchwilco lifejackt, 2 LegaSea sticker packs, 2 LegaSea phone wallets

10. The competition is open to anyone over the age of 15, unless prohibited by NZ law

11. The competition is only open to people who reside in NZ. The prize will be sent free of charge to a NZ address withing 7 working days.

12. The winner will be notified by posting on the LegaSea facebook page. All reasonable attempts will be made to contact the winner, but if this is not achieved then the prize will be void after 7 days.


Shaun WilsonPrinciple 5 – Value recreational fishing