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Pāua poaching and other fisheries offences

Daily limits for amateur fishing

How the daily limits work

Fisheries (Amateur Fishing) Regulations 2013

If you’re fishing or otherwise gathering kaimoana as an amateur or recreational fisher, the limits that apply to the various fish and shellfish species are set out in a single set of regulations called the Fisheries (Amateur Fishing) Regulations.

The country is divided up into seven different fisheries areas, called “FMAs” – for “fisheries management areas”. For some species the limits are different depending on what area you’re in, while for some species they’re the same throughout the whole country. Sometimes they’re the same throughout the whole country except for one or two FMAs. For example, the per-person daily limit for tuangi (cockles) is 150 everywhere, except for the Auckland/Kermadec area, where it’s 50.

If you’re in a group with whānau or friends, each person who’s physically involved in the fishing or gathering is entitled to claim the per-person daily limit. So if you’re in a group of four people all actively involved in fishing or gathering, the group can have four times the per-person limit.

Marine Reserves Act 1971, s 3(3)

Note: You’re not allowed to fish at all in any marine reserve – for example, the Taputeranga marine reserve on the Wellington south coast.

Fisheries (Amateur Fishing) Regulations 2013, regs 12, 16, 48, Schedule 1

  • As an example of the amateur limits, the daily limit for pāua in most FMAs is 10. However, if you’re gathering pāua over more than one day you’re allowed to have up to 20 pāua at any one time, or a shucked weight of 2.5 kg – this is called the “accumulation limit”.
  • You can’t use scuba gear to gather pāua.

Fisheries (Amateur Fishing) Regulations 2013, regs 27, 28

There are also closed seasons for some shellfish. Oysters have a closed season from 1 September to the last day of February, but in the South Island only. Scallops also have a closed season, but the dates depend on which FMA you’re in.

How to find out daily limits and minimum sizes

The easiest way is to text the automated information line run by the Ministry of Primary Industries – this will tell you the minimum size and the catch limit for a particular species. Just text the name of the species in your message – just “paua” for example (it doesn’t work if you spell it “pāua”) – and send it to 9889.

Note: You’ll be allowed to take more than the daily limits if you’re gathering for hui or tangihanga and you’ve got written permission from a formal representative of local tangata whenua (see the chapter “A death in the family”, under “Funerals and tangihanga”).

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Common crimes

Where to go for more support

Community Law


Your local Community Law Centre can provide free initial legal advice and information.

Ministry of Justice


The Ministry of Justice website has a range of pamphlets and other information on the criminal court system. You can access this information online, or you can order hardcopies of the pamphlets from:

Phone: 0800 587 847
Email: publications@justice.govt.nz

Drug Foundation


The New Zealand Drug Foundation has a large amount of information about different drugs and their effects, and about criminal offences and penalties. They also provide drug checking services.



KnowYourStuffNZ provides free information, advice, and drug checking services using a range of testing methods at events around New Zealand.

The New Zealand Needle Exchange Programme


The Needle Exchange Programme provides and collects needles for safe disposal, advice on harm reduction, and is licensed to provide drug checking services.

The Level


The Level provides free guides for people who use drugs. Click on “I’m looking for drug checking” on their website for a calendar of non-festival drug checking clinics in Aotearoa.

Ministry of Health


The Ministry of Health has information about the legal use of cannabis products for medical reasons, and which particular products have been approved. Look under “Our work / Regulation / Medicines control / Prescribing cannabis-based products”.

Ministry of Primary Industries


The MPI website has information about recreational fishing rules and customary gathering rights.

The MPI also runs an automated information line that you can text to find out about minimum sizes and daily catch limits for particular species. Just text the name of the species in your message – just “paua” for example (it doesn’t work if you spell it “pāua”) – and send it to 9889.

How to find the cases we’ve cited in this chapter

This chapter cites a number of New Zealand court decisions as legal authority for the law as we’ve stated it. If you need to look up these cases, you can look at the references for each section and search for them either online or in a law library.

When we give the case citation, we give just the unique case reference – for example, “[2012] NZHC 15”. We haven’t included the case name (which is usually in a format like “Police v Douglas” or “R v Myers”).

You’ll be able to read most of these cases on the government website Judicial Decisions Online, at forms.justice.govt.nz/jdo/Search.jsp. The case will be on that site if the citation we’ve given includes either “NZHC” (for High Court), or “NZCA” (for Court of Appeal), or “NZSC” (for Supreme Court). You’ll need to search for the case on that site by inserting the citation (for example, “[2015] NZSC 135”) in the “Neutral Citation” search field.

Cases that have “NZLR” in the citation (for “New Zealand Law Reports”) usually won’t be available online, but they are available in hard copy in some larger city public libraries, published in orange-brown volumes. For the occasional case that we’ve cited from other report series (like CRNZ, for “Criminal Reports of New Zealand”), you’d need to go to a specialist law library at a university or local Law.

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