COVID-19 response

If you are looking for the latest legal information relating current Coronavirus laws in New Zealand, check out our Coronavirus and the Law section.

Communtity Law Manual | Common crimes | Pāua poaching and other fisheries offences

Pāua poaching and other fisheries offences


Rules for amateur fishing

If you’re not fishing commercially, you’re allowed to take up to the daily limits stated in the amateur fishing regulations, see below, “Daily limits for amateur fishing”.

It’s a criminal offence to take more than those daily limits. For small amounts over the limit you may just get a warning, or you’ll be given an infringement notice (like a speeding ticket) and fined (usually $250), and you won’t get a criminal record. For larger amounts you can be charged in court. If you’re convicted you can then be fined and in some cases given a community-based sentence like community work, or even jailed in the most serious cases. You could also have your fishing gear seized and taken from you permanently, and also other property like your boat or car if you used it in committing the offence. For more information, see below, “Charges and penalties for fisheries offences”.

Māori can take more than the amateur daily limits if this is for hui or tangihanga and they’ve got written permission from a formal representative of local tangata whenua. Permission needs to come from either the kaitiaki who’ve been officially confirmed by the Ministry of Primary Industries for the particular rohe moana, or, if no-one’s been confirmed as kaitiaki, then from a representative of the local marae, rūnanga or other authority. For more details, see the chapter “A death in the family”, under “Funerals and tangihanga”.

What does “amateur fishing” mean?

Fisheries Act 1996, s 2 (“sale” definition), s 89(2)(a)

Amateur or recreational fishing means not fishing for the “purpose of sale” – but “sale” here also includes barter.

Some “fishing” falls outside these rules – for example, whitebait. On the other hand, some that you might not expect to be covered do fall within the rules – like eels and wai kōura (freshwater crayfish).

back to top