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Source: Ministry for Primary Industries

Fisheries New Zealand is reminding recreational fishers to check the rules on set netting before heading out this summer.

Lower South Island regional manager for fisheries compliance, Garreth Jay, says the rules are in place for a reason.

“We want to help make sure people using set nets catch fish not birds or mammals.

“If you’re set net fishing along the south east coast – from Timaru to Catlins and Southland – now is a good time to familiarise yourself with the rules.

“They have been updated to support sustainable fishing and conserve our precious marine taonga, including endangered species such as Hector’s and Māui dolphins.

“Everyone needs to do their part by following the rules.

“Information is available on our website about where you can set a net, and how to set your net legally. Or you can pop into your local office and talk to a fishery officer who will be happy to talk you through it.

“We 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,” Mr Jay says.

While Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) educates fishers on the right methods to use for fishing, 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 using set nets. 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 as set nets are prohibited.

See how the new rules apply to your region:

Check the NZ Fishing Rules app

Fishing rules

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

Recreational fishing rules – South-East (North of the Rangitata river) – South Island [PDF, 2 MB]

Recreational fishing rules South-East – South Island [PDF, 1.7 MB]

Recreational fishing rules Southland [PDF, 2.3 MB]