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Fishing Regulations

Closed and restricted areas

Within the Auckland and Kermadec area there are a variety of closed or restricted areas including:

Eastern Beach
Karekare Beach
Cheltenham Beach
Umupuia Beach
Cockle Bay
Whangateau Harbour
the Maketu Taiapure area
the Mount Maunganui Mātaitai area.

Closed areas: Areas where no fishing of any kind is allowed.

Know the limits
The restrictions on recreational fishers are relatively simple.
The three main things to remember are:
> Don’t take more than the daily limit.
> Don’t take undersized fish.
> Don’t sell or trade your catch.
Only those people physically involved in taking finfish, rock lobster, or shellfish are entitled to claim a catch within the daily limit. You should also be aware of the restrictions on the fishing gear and methods you can use.

Length measurement
Finfish length is measured from the tip of the nose to the middle ray or “V” in the tail.


Bag limits and size restrictions
In the North Region there is a combined maximum daily bag limit of 20 of any combination of the following finfish (with no more than 5 Bluenose):

Fish Species
Minimum length
Blue Cod
Blue Moki
Elephant fish
Flatfish (exept sand flounder)
John Dory
Red Cod
Red Gurnard
Red Moki
Red Snapper
Sand Flounder
School Shark


In addition you may also take the following:

Fish Species Minimum length Maximum Daily Limit per person
Grey Mullet
Snapper 30 7


Sorting and measuring your catch
The obligation to sort and count your catch arises when you legally “take” the shellfish. Exactly when this occurs has been the subject of discussion in the courts. A recent court case concluded that you should count and measure shellfish at the first reasonable opportunity and in that set of circumstances the first reasonable opportunity was on the seafloor as the shellfish were placed in the dive bag.
Freedivers do not have as much time to measure on the seafloor so it is reasonable for them to do this at the surface.

Shellfish Species
Minimum Size
Maximum Daily Limit per person
Green-lipped Mussels
Oysters -Dredge*+  
 Oysters -Rock & Pacific
Paua Ordinary *
Paua yellow Foot *
Toheroa #
All Others (combined) *

* Dredge oyster, paua and scallop must be landed in the shell and cannot be shucked or shelled seaward of the mean high water mark. This does not include dredge oysters and scallops shucked onboard for consumption while at sea within daily bag limits.
† Rock and Pacific oysters must not be opened while they adhere to the object on which they grow.
+ Limited provision allows only 1 diver diving from a vessel to gather extra bag limits of oysters and scallops for up to 2 other people acting in a dive safety capacity from that vessel.
# Toheroa must not be taken, possessed, or disturbed unless an open season is declared by the Director-General of the Ministry for Primary Industries.
• This is a combined, mixed-species bag limit. It applies to all shellfish species not specifically named above and includes all

How to measure shellfish

Paua: measure the greatest length of the shell in a straight line, (do not measure over the curve of the shell).
Scallop: measure the greatest diameter of the shell.
Dredge Oysters: must not pass through a rigid circular metal ring with an inside diameter of 58 mm.
Underwater breathing apparatus (UBA)
(Does not include snorkels)
> No person may take paua using UBA.
> No person may be in possession of paua while in possession of UBA.
This includes possession in or on any vessel or vehicle.
Open seasons
Oysters: There is no season restricting the taking of oysters. They can be taken all year round. However, oysters may not be taken from a small number of designated Māori reserves in the Northland and Waikato Region. Contact the Ministry for Primary Industries for the exact locations of these reserves.
Scallops: the open season is 1 September to 31 March inclusive.
Specific area closures may apply, please contact your local MPI office for details.
Protection of coral
Black Coral: no person may take or possess black coral.
Paua accumulation limits
When daily limits are accumulated the maximum number or amount of paua that 1 person can have in their possession at any one time is:
> 20 paua; or
> shucked weight (shell removed) of 2.5 kgs of paua.
This possession limit applies everywhere, including in the home.

Pot Limits
> All pots and surface float must be clearly and permanently marked with the fishers surname and initials.
> Individuals may use, set, or possess up to 3 pots in any 1 day.
> 2 or more individuals fishing from a vessel may use, set, or possess up to 6 pots in any 1 day provided they have their name on the pots and that each person is using no more than 3 of the pots.
> Mimiwhangata Peninsula – 1 pot per person per vessel.
> Bobs and ring pots may be used to catch rock lobster but all other requirements such as marking and pot limits apply.
> Species specific pots (cod pots, crab pots etc) can be used. They are exempted from escape gap requirements but all other requirement such as marking and pot limits remain.

Rock Lobster
Daily limit
No person may take or possess more than 6 rock lobsters (both species combined) on any one day.
Rock lobster may not be possessed seaward of the high water mark in an unmeasurable state.
Protected rock lobster
The following types of rock lobster must be returned immediately to the water:
> Undersized rock lobsters.
> Any rock lobster carrying external eggs (these are carried between the pleopods on the underside of the tail).
> Any rock lobster in the soft shell stage.
> Any rock lobster that cannot be measured (e.g. because of damage to the tail preventing accurate measurement).
General restrictions
It is an offence to:
> Remove external eggs or the egg-bearing appendages from any rock lobster.
> Use a spear or any device which could puncture the shell when taking rock lobster, or possess any rock lobster which has been speared.
Only hand operated loops or lassoes may be used to take rock lobster.
It is prohibited to use a spring loaded loop or lasso.
Use of pots
All rock lobster pots must have an escape gap as detailed under “ESCAPE GAPS RESTRICTIONS”.

Minimum sizes
No person may take or possess
> Male red rock lobster with a tail width less than 54mm.
> Female red rock lobster with a tail width less than 60mm.
> Packhorse rock lobster (either sex) with a tail length less than
How to measure a red rock lobster
The tail width is measured in a straight line between the tips of the 2 large (primary) spines on the second segment of the tail, as shown in the diagram which follows.

The sex is easily determined:
> Females have small pincers on the rear pair of legs.
> Pleopods are in paired form on each side of the underside of female tails, and are in single form in male tails.
If you are unsure of the sex, use the 60mm measurement and you will be safe.


The following areas within Auckland are closed to all shellfish gathering:
Eastern Beach, Karekare Beach, and Cheltenham Beach.

Information on this page was sourced from the Primary Industries website December 2014 reguarding "Auckland & Kermadec Fishery Management Area".

For more up to date information please view