To commercially fish in New Zealand waters, vessels must be registered as a New Zealand ship (flagged to New Zealand) and be on the Fishing Vessel Register. Find out about the registration requirements and how to apply.
What you need to do
To fish in New Zealand waters, you must register your commercial fishing vessel:
Your vessel must be registered on the Fishing Vessel Register if you use it to take fish, seaweed, or other aquatic life from New Zealand waters to sell. This applies to all New Zealand registered vessels – domestic and foreign-owned.
Note: Foreign-registered vessels aren't allowed to fish in New Zealand waters.
The Maritime New Zealand website has information and instructions for registering your vessel in New Zealand.
FishServe manages the Fishing Vessel Register on behalf of MPI. To apply for vessel registration, first you'll need a FishServe client number.
Get a FishServe client number
If you don't already have a client number:
Update your FishServe details
If you already have a client number, and you need to update your details:
Apply to register on the Fishing Vessel Register
You can apply to register your vessel:
- online – if you've registered for Online Services
- by completing the appropriate application form.
FishServe has different forms, depending on the size of the vessel and whether the vessel is foreign-owned.
What to expect after registration
Once your vessel is registered, FishServe will give you a certificate of registration. This will show your vessel’s registration number and details will be placed on the public Fishing Vessel Register.
Before a foreign-owned vessel that is flagged to New Zealand can be registered as a fishing vessel, MPI checks for:
- previous fisheries offences by anyone involved with the vessel
- any issues with fisheries management, vessel safety, and employment
- compliance with maritime rules around pollution and discharge of waste material.
Why your vessel must be flagged to New Zealand
Reflagging ensures that all vessels operating in our waters have to follow New Zealand laws around fisheries, maritime safety, and employment.
The requirement that foreign-owned vessels must be flagged to New Zealand was introduced in May 2016, following a ministerial inquiry into foreign charter vessels. The reflagging rules involve:
- the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment
- Immigration New Zealand
- Maritime New Zealand.
Find out more
- Guidance for registering commercial ships in the NZ register of ships
- Maritime New Zealand rules:
- Marking your registered vessel [PDF, 387 KB]
- Role of fisheries observers [PDF, 660 KB]
- Report from the ministerial inquiry into foreign charter vessels [PDF, 1.6 MB]
- Actions following the ministerial inquiry into foreign charter vessels [PDF, 205 KB]
Who to contact
If you have questions about registering your vessel as a New Zealand ship, contact Maritime New Zealand:
- email firstname.lastname@example.org
- phone +64 4 473 0111 or 0508 22 55 22 (toll free in New Zealand)
If you have questions about registering your vessel on the Fishing Vessel Register, contact FishServe:
- phone +64 4 460 9555
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For urgent problems, call 0800 00 83 33 (NZ only)