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Source: Ministry for Primary Industries

New rules came into force last year banning the use of recreational set nets in many areas around New Zealand to further protect our rarest dolphins. 

If you’re set netting around Auckland, now is a good time to familiarise yourself with the rules because they have recently been updated to support sustainable fishing and conserve our precious marine taonga, including endangered species such as Hector’s and Māui dolphins.

There has been a lot of action taken to protect Hector’s and Māui dolphins, but everyone needs to do their part, which means following the rules.

Andre Espinoza, MPI’s Western North Island regional manager of Fisheries Compliance, says that in South Auckland and the Waikato area, there are signs displayed and fishery officers have carried out significant education work. This will be done again this summer.

“Our fishery officers work with people to help them understand the rules. We want our fisheries to continue to provide sustainable kaimoana for future generations, while protecting threatened species such as the Hector’s and Māui dolphins. It’s up to everyone to play their part.

“Set netting is popular in harbours, rivers and streams across the region, but they can have implications for seabirds and be a navigation hazard for boaties.”

While MPI educates fishers on the right methods to use for fishing, Mr Espinoza says in some cases people can expect further compliance action if they are caught breaking the rules, including a fine of $250 or a prosecution of up to $20,000.

Alternatives to set nets

There are plenty of other ways of fishing rather than set netting. In shallow harbours for species such as flounder and mullet, the alternative is to use a drag net or spear for flounder. In the open seas or around reefs, line fishing is the only option for most species. 

To see how the new rules apply to your region, check the NZ Fishing Rules app or visit fishing rules.

You can also talk about the rules and regulations with your local fishery officers.

MPI also encourages people to report poaching, suspicious or illegal activity by calling 0800 4 POACHER (0800 47 62 24) or emailing