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Communtity Law Manual | Common crimes | Daily limits for amateur fishing

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, as at May 2019 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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