Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some answers to Frequently Asked Questions. These answers have been given in good faith and are based on our current knowledge. As new information becomes available we will update these answers accordingly. If you have any information you would like to share with us please contact us.

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  • Is commercial scallop dredging allowed inshore around the Coromandel?

    Yes, commercial scallop dredging is allowed inshore around the Coromandel, but there are bans in some places. There are some closed areas on both the eastern and western side of the Coromandel Peninsula, and around the southern end of Great Barrier Island.

    There are closures in Opito Bay and Otama on the eastern Coromandel, but the prohibition line does not run from headland to headland, this means commercial scallop dredgers can come in quite close to land and dredge areas popular with recreational fishers.

    Historically there were voluntary agreements closing some areas to commercial dredging, but those agreements seem to have lapsed some time ago. More info and maps here

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  • How close inshore can purse seiners operate off the Whangarei coastline?

    There is a small area at the north end of Bream Bay that prohibits purse seine nets. This area runs from Busby Head at the Whangarei Harbour entrance to about half way between Marsden Point and the Ruakaka River mouth. Trawl and Danish seine nets are excluded from a much larger area in the inner Bream Bay. These areas are marked on the map below.

    Map of purse seine, trawl and danish seine restrictions off Whangarei.

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  • What about the charter boat reporting scheme?

    The Ministry for Primary Industries answers a range of questions relating to the charter boat reporting scheme, including what species must have their catch reported, why those species were chosen and what areas those reporting requirements apply to. The MPI Charter boat reporting FAQs are here.

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  • What commercial fishing restrictions apply in the Bay of Islands?

    A rahui, customary management area, applies in Maunganui Bay, around the wreck Canterbury and Deep Water Cove. Specific restrictions on commercial fishing apply in many parts of the Bay of Islands. Some restrictions apply only to the southern areas of the Bay, others regulations apply to the whole inner Bay of Islands.
    Specific regulations applying in the Bay of Islands and map details are included in this document. Please note this is sourced from a larger document supplied in 2004 by the Department of Conservation describing fishing restrictions applying in the coastal marine environment around New Zealand. These documents are supplied for your info only, It is likely some of these regulations have changed over time so check with MPI for any updates.

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  • Why don’t we apply a ‘land-all catch’ policy to recreational fishing?

    A land-all catch policy is variously promoted as a way of reducing recreational fishing activity and related mortality, assuming that once the bag limit is caught the person will stop fishing. There are good reasons why LegaSea does not support a land-all catch policy being applied to recreational fishing, one of them is because there is no way to police the land-all catch rule on the water; it relies on voluntary compliance.

    Read more about why LegaSea does not support applying a land-all catch policy to recreational fishing here.

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  • Why not apply a ‘land-all catch’ policy to commercial fishing?

    LegaSea believes the ‘land-all catch’ policy fails to achieve its primary purpose – that landed commercial catch will equate to what is actually caught at sea. This is a misdirected attempt at curbing the damage inflicted by inshore trawlers.

    Read more about LegaSea’s land-all catch policy for commercial fishing here and why we are promoting moving non-selective commercial fishing methods beyond the 100m contour line.

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  • Are there any catch limits for pilchard & mackerel?

    Has the government leased out the area off upper North Island to enable commercial fishers to take sardines and mackerel with no limits?

    LegaSea comments


    The sardine we have in New Zealand is commonly called Pilchard.  They were bought into the Quota System about 10 years ago.  The New Zealand Sport Fishing Council argued, with some success, for a low commercial catch allowance because of the high reported bycatch of kingfish by pilchard boats using purse seine nets. The Total Allowable Commercial Catch (TACC) is set at 2000 tonnes in the upper North Island.

    Jack Mackerel
    There are six larger purse seine boats that target Jack Mackerel for a few months a year.  The northern management area is the whole east coast of the North Island (JMA1) Commercial fishers can, and sometimes do, take up to 10,000 tonnes  a year from JMA1.  Most of the catch comes from the Bay of Plenty.  No commercial catch increase has been proposed.

    Both species are important links in the food chain for marine mammals seabirds and other fish.  We would strongly oppose any increase in commercial catch.

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  • Is commercial exploitation and overfishing the reasons why the Snapper 1 fishery needs rebuilding?

    The recent stock assessment suggests that the Snapper 1 stock has doubled from its low point of the 1990s, so it can be argued that it has rebuilt. That is the problem with language like this – what does rebuilt mean? It suggests a fully rebuilt stock would be back at an unfished biomass.

    The Snapper 1 stock is half of the target of 40% of unfished biomass, regardless of any changes in the last 30 years and the serious depletion from which snapper is recovering. This depletion was inflicted by a wave of reckless industrial commercial fishing, encouraged by subsidies and demands for exports.

    Nowadays, recovery is thwarted by poor industrial practices that kill excessive numbers of juvenile fish without cost, and a perverted management system that causes fishermen to illegally dump fish to remain profitable.

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  • Should we stop fishing during the snapper spawning season?

    A ban on snapper fishing during spawning season is often promoted as a way of allowing more fish to spawn, providing more eggs in the water and more fish in the future. While it seems like the right thing to do there is no agreed view from the experts on whether this strategy would work or what months a ban should apply given that spawning can extend from October to March.

    Before any change the objective for implementing a closure needs to be clear. Is the objective to reduce fishing effort just during spawning? Or is there concern about the year-round fishing effort or total catch? Or is the concern more about commercial methods?

    Other questions need to be addressed too, including who would the closure apply to? Where could you fish in the Hauraki Gulf during spring and avoid snapper? Would we need to close the whole Gulf to all fishing? Would pressure go on more vulnerable species such as trevally and kingfish? And many more questions.

    Current science is inconclusive, but there is evidence to support a precautionary approach, including leaving spawning aggregations to do their thing without fishing disturbance.

    At the very least, removing bottom contact fishing methods like trawling, from inshore waters to protect the habitat for the early, critical life stages of snapper is long overdue and fits with LegaSea’s Principle #2 – Stop senseless waste.

    What follows is an extract from the Ministry’s Plenary report. This extract provides some details of important areas for snapper spawning.

    MPI discussion – snapper spawning disruption.

    Extract: Ministry for Primary Industries (2015). Fisheries Assessment Plenary, May 2015: Stock assessments and stock status. Compiled by the Fisheries Science Group, Ministry for Primary Industries, Wellington, New Zealand. 1475 p.

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  • What are the different commercial fishing methods?

    A range of methods are used by commercial fishers to harvest seafood. These methods include trawling, purse seining, netting, potting, trapping and longlining. This graphic shows the various methods common in New Zealand and how they are deployed.

    Image of different commercial fishing methods.

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  • What do I do if I am fishing around seabirds?

    Seabirds are good indicators of what’s below the surface – this makes them an angler’s best friend. Seabirds can also be annoying if they get tangled in fishing lines, nets or caught on hooks. Small changes to our fishing can make a big difference to seabird survival.

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  • What happened to the 1999 economic study of recreational fishing?

    In 1999 the South Australian Centre for Economic Studies (SACES) undertook a large scale survey of mainly boat fishers to apply the contingent valuation method to estimate consumer surplus from marine recreational fishing in New Zealand.

    Overall, there were some questions about the method used and estimate generated by this study. No attempt was made to estimate the economic impact of recreational fishing in New Zealand as a whole and the report was largely buried by the Fisheries Ministry who had paid for its production.

    What happened to the economic study of recreational fishing in NZ in 1999?

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  • What is LegaSea’s stance on marine reserves?

    LegaSea supports the NZ Sport Fishing Council’s (NZSFC) policy with respect to marine reserves, as follows –

    • The NZSFC is not opposed to the establishment of marine reserves in situations where it has been clearly established that a need for special protection exists. This should not include average or typical examples of marine habitats, but rather areas that are “particularly fragile and/or vulnerable to a range of potential impacts and enforcement is more practical than other mechanisms.” The onus should be on the proposer to justify the need for marine reserve status.
    • Justifying the establishment of reserves by arguing the benefits of spillover effects, genetic variation and regeneration of juvenile fish are extremely tenuous arguments at best, which we do not support. Whatever the possible benefits, marine reserves cannot be justified as fisheries management tools.
    • The nature of our fishing activities utilizes many of our offshore islands, many of which appear to be targeted for marine reserve status. The NZSFC will vigorously oppose any marine reserve proposal that attempts to take the total area around any offshore island, such as has occurred at the Poor Knights. Such action seriously disadvantages our members. If marine reserve status can be justified in the case of any offshore island, it must follow the basic pattern of the Tuhua (Mayor Island) reserve, where only a portion of the waters are reserved for “no take”, such compromise to be reached through genuine negotiation between our members and other stakeholders.
    • That all marine reserves applications have had ample notification in a timely manner to enable meaningful submissions and consultation by the public, affected NZSFC clubs and the Council itself.


    LegaSea comments
    LegaSea supports marine reserves where they deliver tangible benefits to the marine resources.

    The crux of it is that where marine reserves are proposed as a conservation measure for fisheries management, we have found through experience and research that they do not always deliver the intended benefits.  Contrary to current legislation and often in response to inadequate fisheries management, various parties have attempted to promote marine reserves as a fisheries management measure.

    We are committed to achieving a higher biomass in depleted fisheries, through reducing waste and indiscriminate fishing related mortality. LegaSea also supports measures that will enhance our marine environment so all species can thrive in a healthy ecosystem. Ultimately we want to sustain as much of our marine environment for future generations, not just selected pockets.

    Spatial planning & MPAs

    In February 2015 the New Zealand Herald posed a series of questions about marine reserves and marine protected areas to LegaSea. These are the questions and answers about marine reserves and protected areas here.

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  • What is the Fisheries Management Area 1 policy?

    The Fisheries Management Area 1 policy is a document developed by the New Zealand Sport Fishing Council and it applies to the area between North Cape and the eastern Bay of Plenty. LegaSea is promoting this policy as a way of providing future generations the fishing opportunities and marine resources we so gratefully inherited.

    Historic management has focused on single stocks such as snapper or kahawai. This Area 1 policy explains the need to rebuild productivity and diversity by considering the entire ecosystem, including humans.

    Area 1 policy – to rebuild the productivity, diversity and abundance in the northeastern marine environment.

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  • What is the Crayfish 3 policy?

    The Crayfish 3 policy is a document developed by the New Zealand Sport Fishing Council and it applies to the area south of East Cape to the Wairoa River, Poverty Bay. LegaSea is promoting this policy as a way of providing future generations the fishing opportunities and marine resources we so gratefully inherited.

    Management of Crayfish 3 (CRA3) has been highly controversial and there are serious concerns about depletion. Gisborne locals are denied access to reasonable numbers and size of crayfish, averaging 580g per cray, the lowest nationally.

    Crayfish 3 policy – seeks to increase the size and abundance of crayfish and ensure the Gisborne community’s needs are met.

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  • What is the Gurnard 2 policy?

    The Gurnard 2 policy is a document developed by the New Zealand Sport Fishing Council and it applies to the area between East Cape and Wellington. LegaSea is promoting this policy as a way of providing future generations the fishing opportunities and marine resources we so gratefully inherited.

    Gurnard used to be a staple recreational catch. Catch levels have plummeted and many Hawkes Bay fishers despair at the declining abundance of other species.

    Gurnard 2 policy – seeks to double the existing stock size, by applying a range of strategies to reduce the mortality of small fish.

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  • Are trawlers permitted to work in the Hauraki Gulf?

    There is a range of controls applying to commercial fishing in the Hauraki Gulf and broader Fisheries Management Area 1. Trawling and Danish seining are prohibited in the inner Gulf. For further details please refer to this Ministry map showing the fishing restrictions applying in the Hauraki Gulf.

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  • Can a restaurant cook a fish caught by a recreational angler?

    Yes. The Ministry for Primary Industries advises a restaurant can accept fish caught by a recreational fisher, then cook and serve that fish to the successful angler, with conditions. The restaurant can charge for cooking that fish. If the process takes time ie. smoking the fish, the angler must leave his details with the restaurant, for compliance purposes. MPI’s explanation of the requirements if a restaurant cooks a recreationally caught fish is here.

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  • How can recreational fishers reduce waste?

    The simple answer to reducing waste when recreational fishing is to kill fewer small fish or, best of all, avoid catching them in the first place. Killing small fish keeps the stock size low. Recreational anglers need to reduce waste by killing fewer small fish and avoiding gut hooking – this is a priority as we embrace rebuilding the inshore fish stocks.

    Learn how recreational fishers can reduce fishing waste here.

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  • How much fish do we kill when we go fishing?

    There are several reports that estimate the amount of fish killed in the process of fishing. Mortality rates depend on the method used. Bulk harvesting methods such as trawling and Danish seines have the biggest impact. The mortality rate of undersized snapper caught and discarded by trawlers is over 90%. This could equate to as much as 20% of the snapper catch by weight. Since 1994 the Ministry (for Primary Industries) and industry have concealed a report that estimates the snapper mortality rate associated with trawling. We continue to press for the release of this report.

    Prior to the 2013 management changes, recreational fishers were estimated to kill between 3.6 to 7.5% of their snapper catch, by weight not numbers. A report describing the size and condition of snapper caught by recreational fishers is here.

    LegaSea encourages recreational fishers to employ best practice when fishing: any fish being kept for eating needs to be killed and chilled ASAP, use large hooks 7/0 or 8/0s, use large baits or soft baits or jigs that lip hook fish, use appendage hooks, use circle hooks and move away from areas holding large numbers of small fish. Fish for the future.

    LegaSea promotes a ban of trawling inside the 100m depth contour, to protect sensitive and nursery areas and to prevent small fish being killed and discarded.

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  • What is the Snapper 1 policy?

    The Snapper 1 policy is a document developed by the New Zealand Sport Fishing Council. LegaSea is promoting this policy to double the biomass of snapper between North Cape and the eastern Bay of Plenty.

    The Snapper 1 policy – aims to rebuild the Snapper 1 stock to the target level of 40% of the original stock size, that is 40% of its unfished level.

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