National survey of recreational fishers

We're surveying recreational fishers across New Zealand to help build a picture of what they catch. Find out about the survey and how it works.


From 1 October 2017, we'll be surveying recreational fishers on their fishing activity in New Zealand's ocean waters. The surveying will run for a year. It will help us to better understand and manage recreational fishing and fishing activity in important shared fisheries.

Keeping your information private

All information that we collect will be kept private, and only used for strengthening how we manage New Zealand fisheries. We won't share people's secret fishing spots – we just need to know where they fished in and if they caught anything.

Timeline of the survey

The survey runs for one year, from 1 October 2017. The results and analyses are due mid-2019. We do this survey every 5 to 7 years as part of a wider piece of research with the National Research Bureau (NRB) and NIWA (the National Institute for Water and Atmospheric Research).

Results of the previous survey (run in 2011 and 2012) were published in 2014.

We might request your help

Surveyors from NRB, an independent research organisation, are visiting homes around New Zealand to recruit people to do the survey. They'll interview over 30,000 people, and will recruit about 8,000 people to the panel.

If you get selected, taking part in the survey is easy. We'll send you regular text messages to ask if you went fishing. If you have, you'll get a quick phone call asking for more details.

How is the National Panel Survey run?

Each person on the panel is regularly sent a text to ask if they went fishing. Keen fishers are asked more often than occasional fishers.

If a panellist replies to the text saying that they've been fishing, an interviewer from the National Research Bureau (NRB) will call them at a suitable time to get more details.

Interviewers will record the catch of each species in each area. That information will be scaled up to the national catch by all fishers using standard statistical methods.

The panel survey uses the world’s best practice methods, and its results are confirmed by other surveys that NIWA does. NRB will complete the survey.

Making sure we get accurate results 

To support the panel survey, NIWA staff will be at popular boat ramps between North Cape and East Cape on about 60 days in 2017. Interviewers will ask fishers if they'd like to participate. If so, they'll ask what they caught that day, and measure the size of fish caught.

We'll use low-flying aircraft on those days to count the number of boats on the water. This information is combined to estimate the total day's catch in that area.

At the end of the 12 months, researchers will calculate the catch of each species in each area using the:

  • panel survey results
  • information from the boat ramps
  • boat count data.

By comparing these estimates of important species in the north, Fisheries New Zealand will be able to measure the accuracy of the survey. In 2012, these methods gave similar results for fish species commonly caught in northern New Zealand.

For more information on the research that NIWA carries out on recreational fishing download this pamphlet:

Related pages

Who to contact

If you have questions about the survey, email

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