Fisheries Change Programme

The Fisheries Change Programme is working to ensure the sustainable economic, social, and cultural value of New Zealand's fisheries. Find out about the changes, what's staying the same, and the consultation process.

Sustainable fisheries for every New Zealander

Recreational, commercial and customary fishers around New Zealand rely on our fisheries for employment, kai, and the pleasure of going fishing. It's our role to make sure that all of our fisheries are managed sustainably. The Fisheries Change Programme is strengthening the fisheries management system to ensure the sustainability of New Zealand's fisheries.

The programme will ensure that we have:

  • accurate and up-to-date information about commercial fishing activity to inform our fisheries management decisions
  • the right policy settings to ensure the value that all New Zealanders get from our fisheries is sustainable.

Digital tracking, reporting and monitoring of commercial activity

A major feature of the programme is the introduction of new digital technologies for the tracking, reporting, and monitoring of commercial fishing. We are replacing the current methods for reporting, and introducing:

  • electronic catch reporting via an e-logbook – so we can quickly and accurately measure commercial catch effort
  • electronic position reporting – so we can verify (when used with electronic catch reporting) where and when fishing happened 
  • on-board cameras – so we can verify what is being reported. The Minister of Fisheries is considering options for on-board cameras and no decisions have been made yet.

Innovative trawl technologies

We've made changes to regulations to allow the use of innovative new trawl technologies on commercial fishing boats. These innovations will have less impact on the environment, and can reduce by-catch of undersized fish, seabirds, and mammals. 

Policy changes

Alongside regulatory changes, we're making sure that fisheries management policy settings are right for the future.

Consultation: Your fisheries – your say

From 4 February to 17 March 2019, Fisheries New Zealand consulted on proposals to reshape, improve, and modernise the management of New Zealand’s fisheries to ensure more efficient and sustainable commercial fishing. The consultation looked at proposals for:

  • amending the rules for commercial fishers that set out what fish must be brought back to port, and what fish can be returned to the sea
  • ensuring effective and fair offences and penalties
  • streamlining the decision-making process for setting catch limits
  • technical fisheries management changes.

We received more than 1800 submissions. This feedback will help inform advice to the Minister on possible policy and legislation changes.

Digital monitoring Cabinet and supporting papers

The Cabinet paper for Digital Monitoring (previously referred to as IEMRS or 'Integrated Electronic Monitoring and Reporting System') and Enabling Innovative Trawl Technologies was released on 24 April 2017. The Regulatory Impact Statements were released on 29 May 2017 (Digital Monitoring) and 30 May 2017 (Enabling Innovative Trawl Technologies).

The Privacy Impact Assessment for Digital Monitoring was released on 10 November 2017.

Electronic reporting regulation amendments

We consulted from 9 May to 8 June 2018 on proposed amendments to regulations to support electronic reporting and innovative trawl technologies. These technical amendments were intended to be practical and workable for the fishing industry, and include a proposal to phase in electronic catch and position reporting for all fishers not previously using it. 

Previous consultation

In 2016, we held a public consultation titled 'Future of our Fisheries', which was the foundation of the Fisheries Change Programme. As part of this, we met with iwi and held a number of public meetings across the country. Information and views gathered from this consultation were used to inform the 2019 consultation 'Your fisheries – your say'.

Download the previous consultation documents:

What won't change

The following parts of the fisheries management system won't be changed as part of the programme:

  • the purpose of the Fisheries Act (to provide for the use of fisheries resources while ensuring sustainability)
  • the Crown's obligations under Treaty settlements and the rights and interests of tangata whenua, including customary management
  • the right to fish for recreation
  • the key Quota Management System (QMS) tools, including the rights associated with ownership of quota.

Find out more

Who to contact

If you have questions about the programme, email

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