Fisheries Change Programme

The Fisheries Change Programme is working to ensure the sustainable economic, social, and cultural value of New Zealand's fisheries. Find out about the changes, what's staying the same, and the consultation process.

Sustainable fisheries for every New Zealander

Recreational, commercial and customary fishers around New Zealand rely on our fisheries for employment, kai, and the pleasure of going fishing. It's our role to make sure that all of our fisheries are managed sustainably. The Fisheries Change Programme (formerly known as the Future of our Fisheries programme) is strengthening the fisheries management system to ensure the sustainability of New Zealand's fisheries.

The programme will ensure that we have:

  • accurate and up-to-date information about commercial fishing activity to inform our fisheries management decisions
  • the right policy settings to ensure the value that all New Zealanders get from our fisheries is sustainable.

Digital tracking, reporting and monitoring of commercial activity

A major feature of the programme is the introduction of a new digital system for tracking, monitoring and reporting of commercial fishing. This system is replacing the current methods for reporting, and includes:

  • electronic catch reporting via an e-logbook – so we can quickly and accurately measure commercial catch effort
  • electronic position reporting – so we can verify (when used with electronic catch reporting) where and when fishing happened 
  • electronic monitoring (on-board cameras) – so we can verify what is being reported. Note: The Minister of Fisheries is considering options for electronic monitoring implementation and no decisions have been made yet.

Innovative trawl technologies

We've made changes to regulations to allow the use of innovative new trawl technologies on commercial fishing boats. These new nets will have less impact on the environment, and can reduce by-catch of undersized fish, seabirds, and mammals. 

Policy changes

Alongside regulatory changes, we're making sure that fisheries management policy settings are right for the future. The programme is split into 3 sections: short, medium and long-term.

The short-term work is looking at the policy settings needed to support the implementation of digital monitoring and innovative trawl technology projects. 

Find out more

The Cabinet paper for Digital Monitoring (previously referred to as IEMRS or 'Integrated Electronic Monitoring and Reporting System') and EITT (Enabling Innovative Trawl Technologies) was released on 24 April 2017. The Regulatory Impact Statements were released on 29 May 2017 (IEMRS) and 30 May 2017 (EITT).

The Privacy Impact Assessment for IEMRS was released on 10 November 2017.


Regulation amendments

We consulted from 9 May to 8 June 2018 on proposed amendments to regulations to support digital monitoring and innovative trawl technologies. These technical amendments are intended to be practical and workable for the fishing industry, and include a proposal to phase in electronic catch and position reporting for all fishers not currently using it. 

Future of our Fisheries consultation

We held a public consultation, Future of our Fisheries, from 11 November to 23 December 2016. As part of this, we met with iwi and held 15 public consultation meetings across the country.
Download the consultation documents:

Technical Advisory Group

A Technical Advisory Group provides expert, independent advice on the programme to the Director-General of the Ministry for Primary Industries.
The group has extensive experience across the fisheries sector, and a deep understanding of the importance of a sustainable future for New Zealand’s oceans. The members are:

  • Sir Rob Fenwick (Chair) 
  • Harry Burkhardt
  • Graeme Sinclair
  • Lesley Campbell 
  • Graham Stuart.

TAG terms of reference [PDF, 888 KB]
TAG members biographies – Beehive website

What won't change

The following parts of the fisheries management system won't be changed as part of the programme:

  • the purpose of the Fisheries Act (to provide for the use of fisheries resources while ensuring sustainability)
  • the Crown's obligations under Treaty settlements and the rights and interests of tangata whenua, including customary management
  • the right to fish for recreation
  • the key Quota Management System (QMS) tools, including the rights associated with ownership of quota.

Find out more

Who to contact

If you have questions about the programme, email

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