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Source: Ministry for Primary Industries


Media contact: MPI media team

The recreational and commercial fishing rules for blue cod will soon change to improve the sustainability of this very important fishery.

From 1 July 2020:

  • the minimum catch size of blue cod will be standardised to 33cm across most areas (except in the upper North Island)
  • the minimum pot mesh size for blue cod will change to 54mm
  • a measure known as “the traffic light system” will be used to indicate the daily bag limit for different areas.

Fisheries New Zealand’s director of fisheries management Emma Taylor says blue cod is an iconic fish species for New Zealanders, and its popularity has led to overfishing in some parts of the country.

“These new rules are to address localised overfishing, particularly in parts of the South Island where most blue cod are caught.

“Standardising the legal minimum size of blue cod to 33cm will contribute to improving the productivity of blue cod populations by allowing the fish to grow to a larger size and giving them a greater chance to breed. This size limit is already in place for commercial fishers and recreational fishers in many areas.”

The changes were consulted on in March 2019 and over 900 submissions were received, with most submitters in support of a reduction to the daily bag limit for blue cod.

Summary of the changes

  • The minimum pot mesh size for cod is now 54mm for all fishers.
  • The minimum legal size (MLS) for recreationally caught blue cod is now 33cm, with the exception of BCO 1 (upper North Island) where it is 30cm.
  • All recreationally caught blue cod must be landed in a measurable state, unless immediately eaten on the fishing vessel from which it was taken.
  • The recreational accumulation limit for blue cod is now set at 2 days (that is, 2 daily bag limits per person, per multi-day trip) except for the Fiordland Marine Area where the accumulation limit is 1 day.
  • The daily bag limit for recreationally caught blue cod will now follow a “traffic light” system.

The traffic light system applies to the South Island and Chatham Islands and provides an adaptive approach to setting daily bag limits in different areas. It assigns a colour rating to each area, which can be changed as available information suggests stock health is improving or declining.

“This system reduces the recreational daily blue cod limits to 2 blue cod per person in ‘red’ areas, which are the areas at most risk of localised depletion, and higher limits of 10 and 15 in ‘orange’ and ‘green’ areas respectively, which hold healthier stocks of blue cod.”

NZ Fishing rules

“We encourage people to check the rules before going fishing. The easiest way to do this is download the NZ Fishing Rules app on Android or iPhone, or check the rules on our website.”

NZ Fishing Rules app – Google Play

NZ Fishing Rules app – App Store

Fishing rules

Further information about the blue cod fishery and these decisions

National Blue Cod Strategy

Review of blue cod fishing regulations