Fisheries resource portal

Below we’ve collated some useful references, reports and links relevant to our report on commercial fisheries.

Aotearoa New Zealand's fisheries system

Aquatic Environment and Biodiversity Annual Review (AEBAR) 2019/20
Fisheries New Zealand (June 2020)
A review of the best scientific information about fishing impacts on the environment, marine biodiversity and aquatic environments, updated annually.
See all AEBAR reports here

Fisheries assessment plenary
Fisheries New Zealand (May 2020)
The May 2020 Plenary summarises fisheries, biological, environmental, stock assessment and stock status information for 83 of Aotearoa New Zealand’s commercial fish species or species groups.

The status of New Zealand’s fisheries 2019
Fisheries New Zealand (February 2020)
Assessment of fish stocks against performance measures.

Draft national inshore finfish fisheries plan
Fisheries New Zealand (November 2019)
A plan to guide the management of inshore finfish fisheries for the next five years.

National fisheries plan for deepwater and middle-depth fisheries
Fisheries New Zealand (May 2019)
Provides a strategic direction for deepwater and middle-depth fisheries and considers management of commercially important deepwater species and associated bycatch.

National fisheries plan for highly migratory species
Fisheries New Zealand (May 2019)
A plan to guide management of highly migratory species (HMS) in Aotearoa New Zealand waters, in line with our international obligations.

Voices from the sea: Managing New Zealand’s fisheries
Environmental Defence Society (2018)
The report looks at the underlying constructs behind the QMS and examines the operation of Aotearoa New Zealand’s fisheries management system within the broader marine environment.

Learning from New Zealand’s 30 years of experience managing fisheries under a quota management system
The Nature Conservancy (November 2017)
Provides insights and lessons from the Aotearoa New Zealand fisheries management experience, including an overview of QMS and settlement of Māori Treaty Rights, and fisheries management within the wider context of ocean conservation and management.

Fisheries management system review
Fisheries New Zealand (2015)
The review, concluded in 2015, considered the changing needs and expectations of the people who use Aotearoa New Zealand’s fisheries. It led to the Fisheries Change Programme.
Also see: The future of our fisheries

Fisheries 2030
Ministry of Fisheries (September 2009)
Fisheries 2030 provides a long-term goal for the Aotearoa New Zealand fisheries sector: New Zealanders maximising benefits from the use of fisheries within environmental limits.

Harvest Strategy Standard for New Zealand Fisheries
Ministry of Fisheries (October 2008)
This report documents how fish stocks are assessed and managed under the Quota Management System.

New Zealand’s quota management system: A history of the first 20 years
Motu Economic and Public Policy Research Trust & Ministry of Fisheries (April 2007)
Documents how the QMS functions and changes it has undergone since 1986.

Fisheries Infosite
Ministry for Primary Industries
An archive of fisheries research spanning 30 years. Also includes historical information on stock status for species in the QMS.

Also see: Targeted management plans

Other government reports and relevant policies

A review of the funding and prioritisation of environmental research in New Zealand
Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment (December 2020)
This report examines how public funds are invested in environmental research in Aotearoa New Zealand, including research on the marine environment.

Te Mana o te Taiao – Aotearoa New Zealand Biodiversity Strategy 2020
Department of Conservation (August 2020)
Te Mana o te Taiao sets a strategic direction for the protection, restoration and sustainable use of biodiversity, particularly indigenous biodiversity, in Aotearoa New Zealand for the next 30 years.

Managing our estuaries
Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment (August 2020)
This report outlines the environmental challenges faced by estuaries and calls for a holistic management approach: ki uta ki tai, from the mountains to the sea.

Focusing Aotearoa New Zealand’s environmental reporting system
Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment (November 2019)
The report reviews how well Aotearoa New Zealand reports on the state of its environment, and finds gaps in data and knowledge that undermine our stewardship of the environment, and recommends concerted action and serious investment to improve the system.

Our Marine Environment 2019
Ministry for the Environment (October 2019)
The report examines the most pressing issues in our oceans, seas, coastlines and estuaries.
See all publications in the environmental reporting series by MfE and Stats NZ

Environment Aotearoa 2019
Ministry for the Environment and Stats NZ (April 2019)
Provides an overview of the state of our environment.
See all publications in the environmental reporting series by MfE and Stats NZ

New Zealand’s Sixth National Report to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity. Reporting Period 2014-2018
Department of Conservation (2019)
The report provides a four-yearly update on Aotearoa New Zealand’s progress against biodiversity targets (under the New Zealand Biodiversity Action Plan 2016-2020; and the global Aichi targets set under the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2010-2020, which were agreed by the Parties to the CBD in 2010).

New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement
Department of Conservation (November 2010)
Guides local authorities in their day-to-day management of the coastal environment.

Marine Protected Areas: Policy and implementation plan
Department of Conservation (December 2005)
Sets out the policy and implementation plan to protect Aotearoa New Zealand’s marine biodiversity by establishing a comprehensive and representative network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs).
Note: the Government is currently in the process of reforming MPA legislation.

Environmental reports and resources

Climate-related risk scenarios for the 2050s
The Aotearoa Circle (2020)
A report exploring plausible futures for aquaculture and fisheries in Aotearoa New Zealand.

The state of world fisheries and aquaculture 2020
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (2020)
A regular report that aims to provide objective, reliable and up-to-date information on fisheries and aquaculture. This edition has a particular focus on sustainability.

Aotearoa cumulative effects (ACE) framework
Sustainable Seas (June 2019)
A framework developed by the Sustainable Seas National Science Challenge to guide collaborative management of cumulative effects.

EAFM and the Fisheries Act 1996
Fathom (April 2019)
This report identifies commonly-accepted principles of an Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries Management (EAFM) in international literature, and assesses the extent to which the Fisheries Act 1996 requires or enables Aotearoa New Zealand’s fisheries management regime to reflect these principles.

Impacts of climate change on fisheries and aquaculture
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (2018)
A synthesis of current knowledge, adaptation and mitigation options.

Impacts of climate change on New Zealand fisheries
Pinkerton (September 2017)
This chapter in the book ‘Climate change impacts on fisheries an aquaculture: A global analysis’ presents an overview of Aotearoa New Zealand’s commercial fisheries and aquaculture, and outlines how climate change is impacting these sectors as well as the wider marine environment.

Marine litter: Vital graphics
UN Environment Programme (2016)
A report that explains the issue of marine litter, featuring helpful infographics.

Living blue planet report 2015
World Wildlife Fund (September 2015)
This report takes a deep look at the health of our oceans and the impact of human activity on marine life.
See also: Living planet report 2020

Species at risk

Dragonfly Data Science
Dragonfly has developed several interactive interfaces for visualising data on interactions between seabirds and marine mammals.

A fisher’s guide to New Zealand seabirds
Department of Conservation (December 2020)
A guide to 26 different seabird species found in Aotearoa New Zealand waters that are at risk of being caught in fisheries.

National Plan of Action – Seabirds 2020
Fisheries New Zealand and the Department of Conservation (May 2020)
Sets out goals and objectives to reduce the incidental mortality of seabirds in fisheries.

Threat management plan for Hector’s and Māui dolphins
Fisheries New Zealand and the Department of Conservation (June 2019)
The threat management plan for Hector’s and Māui dolphins was first published in 2008, with reviews in 2012 and 2019 resulting in amended protection measures.
Also see: Toxoplasmosis action plan

New Zealand sea lion/rāpoka threat management plan
Ministry for Primary Industries and the Department of Conservation (July 2017)
Published in 2017, this document sets out a five-year plan to halt and reverse the decline of New Zealand sea lions/rāpoka.

National Plan of Action for the Conservation and Management of Sharks
Ministry for Primary Industries (2013)
A plan to ensure long-term viable populations of sharks. This NPOA was due to be reviewed in 2018.


State of our gulf 2020
Hauraki Gulf Forum (February 2020)
This report outlines the state of fisheries, biodiversity and the wider marine environment in Tīkapa Moana the Hauraki Gulf.

Hawke’s Bay Marine & Coastal Group Research Roadmap
Hawke’s Bay Marine & Coastal Group (June 2018)
A roadmap for future marine and coastal research in Te Matau-a-Māui the Hawke’s Bay region, aiming to achieve a healthy and functioning marine ecosystem that supports an abundant and sustainable fishery.

Sea Change – Tai Timu Tai Pari (Hauraki Gulf Marine Spatial Plan)
Hauraki Gulf Forum (April 2017)
A marine spatial plan aiming to restore the mauri of Tīkapa Moana the Hauraki Gulf.

Kaikōura Marine Strategy 2012
Te Korowai o Te Tai ō Marokura/Kaikoūra Coastal Marine Guardians (2012)
A strategy for managing the Kaikōura marine environment, which underpins the Kaikōura (Te Tai ō Marokura) Marine Management Act 2014.

Research and innovation

Sustainable Seas National Science Challenge
The objective of Sustainable Seas is to enhance utilisation of our marine resources within environmental and biological constraints. This book from 2018 profiles 40 of the research projects undertaken within Sustainable Seas, while research outputs can be found at this landing page.

Moana Project
A project to deploy sensors on fishing vessels, collecting data about our oceans. The aim is to develop a suite of high-resolution open-access models detailing atmospheric conditions, sea level, ocean temperatures and ocean currents.

Seafood Innovations Ltd (SIL)
Seafood Innovations Ltd encourages and provides funding support for innovative research and development within the seafood industry.

Gear Innovation Pathway
An initiative of FINZ and SIL, the objective of this funding programme is to facilitate industry innovation that will reduce impacts, add value, and increase productivity in Aotearoa New Zealand fisheries.

Development of an AI-powered drone that will autonomously find and follow Māui and Hector’s dolphins, and uniquely identify them.

Tiaki / Precision Seafood Harvesting 
A new technology that replaces traditional trawl designs with a ‘Modular Harvesting System’ that allows fish to swim freely and allows small fish to escape unharmed.

New Zealand Marine Sciences Society
A non-profit organisation that connects marine scientists across Aotearoa New Zealand.

New Zealand Marine Research Foundation
A charitable trust established in 1996 to fund marine research projects that benefit Aotearoa New Zealand. The last research output listed is a report from 2016.

Lenfest Ocean Program
This international programme, managed by The Pew Charitable Trusts, funds research projects that address the needs of marine and coastal stakeholders, connecting decision makers and other marine stakeholders with researchers.

Also see: Research programmes, funding and prioritisation

Stripy parore fish swim near the seafloor, surrounded by tall kelp

Parore (Girella tricuspidata). Image credit: Shaun Lee/iNaturalist (CC BY 4.0).

Red gurnard sitting on seafloor with bright blue spotted wings outstretched

Red gurnard (Chelidonichthys kumu). Image credit: jmartincrossley/iNaturalist (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0).

Economic and social aspects

The economic contribution of commercial fishing to the New Zealand economy
BERL (August 2017)
A report commissioned by the commercial fishing industry found that fishing and seafood processing contributed more than $4 billion to the Aotearoa New Zealand economy in the five years to 2015.

Recreational fishing in New Zealand: A billion-dollar industry
New Zealand Marine Research Foundation (March 2016)
A report exploring the role of recreational fishing in Aotearoa New Zealand, including economic contributions.

New Zealand seafood consumer preferences: A snapshot
Ministry for Primary Industries (November 2019)
A report examining New Zealanders’ seafood preferences, frequency of consumption, and considerations when purchasing seafood.


Te Ohu Kaimoana
An organisation borne out of the Treaty of Waitangi (Fisheries Claims) Settlement Act 1992, dedicated to advancing Māori interests in the marine environment, including commercial and customary fisheries and aquaculture. Provides policy and fisheries management advice to iwi and the wider Māori community.

Seafood New Zealand
Organisation providing strategy and advice for the commercial fishing and aquaculture industries.

A website produced by Seafood New Zealand providing accessible information about environmental, social and production aspects of the Aotearoa New Zealand seafood industry.

Fisheries Inshore New Zealand (FINZ)
A non-profit organisation working to advance the interests of fishers and quota owners in inshore finfish, pelagic and tuna fisheries.

Deepwater Group
A non-profit organisation representing the interests of and developing strategy for deepwater fisheries.

The Pāua Industry Council
Provides coordination, advocacy and advisory services to pāua divers, quota owners, ACE holders and processors. Represents the five regional commercial stakeholder groups known as PāuaMACs.

New Zealand Rock Lobster Industry Council
Representative body for the commercial rock lobster industry, liaising with government, media and other marine stakeholders to advance the interests of the rock lobster industry.

Operated by a subsidiary of Seafood New Zealand, provides administrative services to the commercial fishing industry to support implementation of the Fisheries Act 1996.


Fisheries New Zealand(Ministry for Primary Industries)
Works to ensure fisheries resources are managed to provide the greatest overall benefit to New Zealanders. Focus is the sustainability of Aotearoa New Zealand’s wild fish stocks, aquaculture, and the wider aquatic environment, now and for future generations.

Ministry for the Environment
Undertakes national environmental reporting, and is responsible for some marine acts and regulation.

Department of Conservation
Responsible for marine reserves, marine mammals captured in Aotearoa New Zealand fisheries, and resources for trawl fisheries.

Fish & Game New Zealand
Manages, maintains and enhances sports fish and their habitats in the best long-term interests of present and future generations of anglers. Administers local Fish & Game Councils including regulations, fishing licence agents. Established under Conservation Act.

See also: Appendix 6 of the full report

Legislation and agreements

Fisheries Act 1996 and Fisheries (Reporting) Regulations 2017 – Provide for the utilisation of fisheries resources while ensuring sustainability.

Treaty of Waitangi (Fisheries Claims) Settlement Act 1992 – Gives effect to settlement of claims relating to Māori fishing rights.

Māori Fisheries Act 2004 – Provides for development of the collective and individual interests of iwi in fisheries in a manner that is ultimately for the benefit of all Māori.

Fisheries (Quota Operations Validation) Act 1997 – Confirms and validates matters regarding quote registers, landed catch allocations, and advice.


Marine Mammals Protection Act 1978 – Makes provision for the protection, conservation, and management of marine mammals within Aotearoa New Zealand and within Aotearoa New Zealand waters.

Marine Reserves Act 1971 – Provides for the setting up and management of areas of the sea and foreshore as marine reserves for the purpose of preserving them in their natural state as the habitat of marine life for scientific study.

Hauraki Gulf Marine Park Act 2000 – Enables integration of management of the natural, historic, and physical resources of Tīkapa Moana the Hauraki Gulf, its islands, and catchments.

Driftnet Prohibition Act 1991 – Prohibits driftnet fishing activities and implements the Convention for the Prohibition of Fishing with Long Driftnets in the South Pacific.

Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf (Environmental Effects) Act 2012 – Promotes sustainable management of the natural resources of the exclusive economic zone and the continental shelf and protects environment from pollution by regulating or prohibiting the discharge of harmful substances and the dumping or incineration of waste or other matter.


Resource Management Act 1991 – Sets out how we should manage our environment (the use of land, air, and water).

Environmental Reporting Act 2015 – Requires regular reports on Aotearoa New Zealand’s environment.

Antarctic Marine Living Resources Act 1981 – Gives effect to the Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources.

Wildlife Act 1953  – Consolidates and amends the law relating to the protection and control of wild animals and birds, the regulation of game shooting seasons, and the constitution and powers of acclimatisation societies.

Conservation Act 1987 – Promotes the conservation of Aotearoa New Zealand’s natural and historic resources, and for that purpose to establish a Department of Conservation.

International conventions and agreements

Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) – Provides a global platform for the conservation and sustainable use of migratory animals and their habitats and lays the legal foundation for internationally coordinated conservation measures throughout a migratory range.

Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels (ACAP) – Objective is to achieve and maintain a favourable conservation status for albatrosses and petrels.

Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) – This intentional legal instrument is for the conservation of biological diversity, the sustainable use of its components and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the utilisation of genetic resources. Overall objective is to encourage actions, which will lead to a sustainable future. Aotearoa New Zealand reports to the CBD every four years. Also see the Aichi Biodiversity Targets.

United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) – Aotearoa New Zealand has ‘sovereign rights’ and ‘jurisdiction’ but must also have due regard for the rights of other states.

Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) – Aim is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival.

United Nations Fish Stocks Agreements – Sets out principles for conservation and management of fish stocks (such as highly migratory fish stocks).

International Whaling Commission (IWC) – Whaling, bycatch and entanglement, ocean noise, pollution and debris, collision between whales and ships, and sustainable whale watching.

Food and Agricultural Organization – International Plan of Action for Seabirds (FAO-IPOA Seabirds) – The objective is to reduce the incidental catch of seabirds in longline fisheries where this occurs. 

Noumea Convention – Aims to address the accelerating degradation of the world’s oceans and coastal areas through the sustainable management and use of marine and coastal environments.

Food and Agriculture Organization – Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries – Sets out principles and international standards of behaviour for responsible practices with a view to ensuring the effective conservation, management and development of living aquatic resources, with due respect for the ecosystem and biodiversity. Aotearoa New Zealand’s page is available here.

Food and Agricultural Organization – International Plan of Action for Sharks (FAO-IPOA Sharks) – The objective is to ensure the conservation and management of sharks and their long-term sustainable use. Aotearoa New Zealand’s NPOA-Sharks is available here.

Convention for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna (CCSBT) – Objective to ensure, through appropriate management, the conservation and optimum utilisation of southern bluefin tuna.

Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) – Applies to all Antarctic populations of finfish, molluscs, crustacean and sea birds found south of the Antarctic Convergence.

Convention on the Conservation and Management of Highly Migratory Fish Stocks in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean (WCPFC) – Seeks to address problems in the management of high seas fisheries resulting from unregulated fishing, over-capitalization, excessive fleet capacity, vessel re-flagging to escape controls, insufficiently selective gear, unreliable databases and insufficient multilateral cooperation in respect to conservation and management of highly migratory fish stocks.

South Tasman Rise Orange Roughy Arrangement – An agreement between Aotearoa New Zealand and Australia to cooperatively manage the shared fishery resource of orange roughy on the South Tasman Rise. See also Fisheries (South Tasman Rise Orange Roughy Fishery) Regulations 2000.

Convention on the Conservation and Management of High Seas Fishery Resources in the South Pacific Ocean The objective is, through the application of the precautionary approach and an ecosystem approach to fisheries management, to ensure the long-term conservation and sustainable use of fishery resources and to safeguard the marine ecosystems in which these resources occur.

Wellington Convention: Convention for the Prohibition of Fishing with Long Driftnets in the South Pacific – Multilateral treaty whereby states agreed to prohibit the use of fishing driftnets longer than 2.5 km in the South Pacific.

Also see: Appendices 8 and 9