Blue cod

Blue cod are the third most popular recreational fish in New Zealand and are an iconic South Island species. Find out about blue cod, the status of the fishery and how MPI is managing populations for future generations.

About blue cod

Māori name(s): rāwaru, pākirikiri

Scientific name: Parapercis colias

Blue cod are:

  • bottom-dwelling fish found at depths of up to 150m
  • only found in New Zealand waters
  • more abundant south of Cook Strait and around the Chatham Islands.

Blue cod growth is influenced by a range of factors, including sex, habitat and local fishing pressure. They can change sex from female to male and males are generally larger than females.

Blue cod can live up to 32 years and reach a length of up to 60cm.

Check fishing rules for blue cod

Fishing rules for blue cod and other fish species differ around the country and can change. Check the rules for your area every time before you go fishing.

The blue cod fishery

The blue cod fishery is split into 8 fishery management areas. Catch allowances are set differently for each area depending on the health of the fish population and fishing pressure.



2016 catch allowances (tonnes)

Blue cod are managed under New Zealand's Quota Management System (QMS). By controlling the amount of fish taken from each area, the QMS helps keep fisheries sustainable.

Area Total allowance Commerical allowance Customary allowance Recreational allowance Other mortality2
BCO 1 1 46.2
BCO 2 10.3
BCO 3 162.7
BCO 4 759.3
BCO 5 1452 1239 2 191 20
BCO 7 343 70 27 177 69
BCO 8 226 34 2 188 2
BCO 10 10

1 Areas marked '-' have no allowance set (not enough information is available to set catch allowances)
2 Fishing-related mortality from all sectors such as discarding and poaching.

Stock status of BCO 3

graph showing BCO3 blue cod catch per unit effort from 1990 to 2014
Blue cod (BCO 3) catch per unit effort from 1990 to 2014

Recreational fishers catch most blue cod in BCO 3. In the 2011-2012 fishing year, almost 120 tonnes of blue cod were caught by recreational fishers in BCO 3. Commercial catch averages around 160 tonnes a year.

Blue cod are mostly caught in pots – and stock levels are measured using a method known as "pot catch per unit effort" (CPUE).  The graph shows stock has fluctuated in a narrow band since the early 1990s but has stayed above soft and hard management limits. If stock falls below a soft limit, Fisheries New Zealand manages the fishery to rebuild stock. If stock falls below a hard limit, we close the fishery.

Find out more

For more detailed information and data about blue cod fisheries, download our latest:

Report poaching

Report poaching, suspicious, or illegal activity – call 0800 4 POACHER (0800 47 62 24) or email

You can help us by providing:

  • the location
  • vehicle/trailer registration number
  • boat name
  • description of the person

When reporting any suspected poaching put your personal safety first. All calls and personal details are treated as confidential.

Who to contact

If you have questions about this page, email

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