Keep your catch legal

Fishing is one of New Zealand’s most loved activities. We have a beautiful country with plenty of beaches and lots of great fishing spots.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) works to keep New Zealand’s fisheries sustainable, making sure there are fish for today, tomorrow, and many years to come.

Our long and varied coastline is a great place to visit and enjoy. Fishing for fun is something many New Zealanders enjoy – especially over the summer. Fishing and seafood are also important to Maori. With a huge range of fish in our waters, from Kahawai to Kingfish and Paua to Pipis, our kai moana (food from the sea) is tasty and there for everyone to enjoy.

Because we want to keep fish available to everyone, New Zealand has rules about fishing. There are rules around the number of fish and shellfish you can catch, the sizes of fish you are allowed to keep and where and how you can fish. These rules are set by MPI so that you can catch enough fish for you and your family to enjoy while leaving plenty of fish for others later.


MPI has developed free services to make following the rules easy – find out more through their website, by visiting your local MPI office, or by downloading the free NZ Fishing Rules app. There are signs at popular fishing places to remind you of the rules. When you go fishing, you will sometimes see people in uniforms called fishery officers, honorary fishery officers or compliance officers. These people work for MPI and will help you understand the rules and tell you how much fish or shellfish you are allowed.

There are a few people who don’t care about the rules. People who will catch far too many fish without thinking about anyone else or the future. This is called poaching and is illegal. It is also illegal to sell or trade the fish you catch. We are very serious about policing our fishing rules. If you are found with too many fish or fish that are too small you can face big fines and even prison. You can also have your boat or your car taken away.

Enjoy our fisheries, discover them, explore them, share them – and most of all respect them. Then there will be enough fish for you and your children to enjoy – as well as their children and their children’s children.

MPI’s free services for checking the fishing rules:

  1. Visit the MPI website
  2. Free text the word “app” to 9889 to download our app (within NZ)
  3. Free text the name of the fish you are catching to 9889 to check the rules for that fish (within NZ)
  4. Visit your local MPI office to collect a brochure (within NZ)

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