International fisheries

MPI represents New Zealand in international fisheries management issues. Find out about our role, what we do, and how to access international fisheries.


About international fisheries

International fisheries include fisheries: 

  • on the high seas – beyond any country's 200 nautical mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ)
  • within another country's waters
  • within the New Zealand EEZ for highly migratory species. 

MPI's role

MPI represents New Zealand in international fisheries management. We work closely with international and New Zealand organisations (especially the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Trade) on international fisheries issues. 

We aim to maximise economic and other benefits to New Zealand from international fisheries while:

  • protecting the environment
  • meeting international obligations.

We do this by:

  • developing frameworks, standards and rules to support sustainable use of fisheries and protection of the marine environment
  • managing fisheries according to New Zealand’s international obligations 
  • building bilateral and regional fisheries relationships 
  • supporting trade and market access 
  • supporting management of fisheries in other countries, especially Pacific island countries. 

Treaties for sustainable fisheries

New Zealand has signed up to a number of international treaties that manage international fisheries.

The 2 main ones are the:

Regional Fisheries Management Organisations

New Zealand has ratified (signed up to) a number of international agreements to manage specific international fisheries or areas of the ocean. These agreements are managed through Regional Fisheries Management Organisations (RFMOs). 

Each year we meet with other RFMO members and discuss: 

  • access to fisheries for New Zealand vessels
  • fishery conservation and management measures.

We include agreed measures in New Zealand laws – so New Zealand vessels, companies and fishers must comply with them. 

New Zealand is a member of the:

Access to international fisheries

Commercial New Zealand fishers can access some international fisheries by applying for a high seas fishing permit. Under the permit, fishers have obligations and reporting requirements when fishing in international waters.  

MPI and Pacific island fisheries

MPI helps to strengthen administration of Pacific island fisheries. We work with Pacific island countries to help them get the most out of their fisheries resources through sustainable management and use.

We collaborate directly with Pacific island countries and with other providers in the Pacific, including the Pacific Community (SPC) and Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA).

Countries that have a Fisheries Cooperation Arrangement with New Zealand include:

  • Te Vaka Moana Arrangement participants — Cook Islands, Niue, Samoa, Tokelau, Tonga
  • fisheries cooperation grouping of Kiribati, Nauru, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu
  • Pacific partners under bilateral programmes with New Zealand — Tuvalu and Solomon Islands.

Who to contact

If you have questions about international fisheries, email info@mpi.govt.nz

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