Southland area fishing rules
Recreational fishing rules for the Southland area, including closures, restrictions, and other important notices.
What you need to know
This area covers the waters south and west from Awarua Point, South Westland to Slope Point, the Catlins south-east coast, Foveaux Strait, Stewart Island and all adjacent islands and waters out to 200 nautical miles.
Note, the area excludes Fiordland, which has different rules.
All recreational fishing – including potting, netting and all other fishing methods – is covered by rules.
Remember, if you're a recreational fisher, selling any fish or shellfish you catch is illegal.
Ways to check the rules
This page has a summary of:
You can also check rules in our brochures, use the free NZ Fishing Rules app, or text us. You'll also see signs about rules at many fishing spots.
Get a brochure
- Download the rules brochure [PDF, 2.5 MB]
- Get a printer-friendly version [PDF, 2.5 MB]
- email MPI to get a brochure posted to you
- Visit an MPI fisheries office
Download the free NZ Fishing Rules app
Or free text "app" to 9889 to be sent the links to your phone. Once installed, the app will work without an internet connection.
Use our free text service
Send a free text to 9889 with the name of a species.
For example, text "blue cod" or "pāua" to 9889. You'll be sent legal bag and size limits for that species by return text.
Limits and closures
In the Southland area there is a combined daily bag limit of 30 finfish per fisher, consisting of any combination of the species listed on the following table. Individual species limits must not be exceeded.
|Finfish Species||Min length (cm)||Max daily limit per fisher||Min mesh size for nets (mm)|
|Flatfish (except Sand flounder)||25||30||100|
|Herring (Yellow eyed mullet)||–||–||25|
|Seven gilled shark||–||1||100|
|White pointer shark||-||No take||-|
Shellfish are taken when they cannot freely return to the water e.g. placed into a catch bag or similar. At no time while gathering may you be in possession of more than your daily limit.
|Shellfish Species||Max daily limit per fisher||Min size (mm)|
|Kina (sea eggs)||50||none|
(Season: 1 Mar to 31 Aug)
– Yellow foot
(Season: 1 Oct to 15 Mar)
|All others (combined) •||50||none|
* Excluding Stewart Island where the mussel limit is 50.
† Divers on a vessel may take an additional quota of oysters or scallops for up to two people acting in a dive safety capacity. Note: This only applies to taking oysters and scallops.
# Toheroa must not be taken, possessed or disturbed unless authorised by a Customary Authority.
• This is a combined, mixed-species bag limit. It applies to all shellfish species not specifically named above and includes all crabs, limpets, catseyes, cook’s turban, starfish, periwinkles and freshwater crayfish (koura).
Daily bag limits
Maximum of 6 rock lobster (both species combined) on any one day.
Spiny rock lobster minimum size
Measure the tail width in a straight line between the tips of the two large (primary) spines on the second segment of the tail. If you are unsure of the sex, use the 60mm measurement.
Packhorse lobster minimum size
Measure the tail length along the underside in a straight line from the rear of the calcified bar on the first segment to the tip of the middle fan of the tail. Must have a tail length of at least 216mm (male and female).
Additional rules and protections
There are rules and protections for gathering rock lobster/crayfish that cover: protected types, gathering methods, pot construction and use. For more details check the:
No fishing is allowed, this includes Marine Reserves.
- Ulva Island - Te Wharawhara Marine Reserve
Marine reserves are managed by the Department of Conservation (DOC).
Particular fishing methods are banned or catch/bag limits for particular species are different.
- Slope Point to Sandhill Point - no set netting
- Te Waewae Bay between Old Man Rock, west of Garden Bay and Sandhill Point - no set netting.
Areas where tangata whenua manage non-commercial fishing through bylaws:
Mataura River - Southland
Waitutu - Southland
Te Whaka a Te Wera - Stewart Island
- view the map [PDF, 164 KB]
- read the bylaw notice – NZ Gazette website
- read the corrigendum to the notice - NZ Gazette website
Horomamae - Titi Islands
Pikomamaku - Titi Islands
Kaihuka - Titi Islands
Rules brochures are available for:
- Mataura River Mātaitai [PDF, 1.5 MB]
- Te Whaka a Te Wera/Paterson Inlet Mātaitai Reserve [PDF, 1.4 MB]
Food safety warnings
Warnings are issued when shellfish are unsafe to eat because of contamination with biotoxin.
Report poaching, suspicious, or illegal activity – call 0800 4 POACHER (0800 47 62 24) or email firstname.lastname@example.org
You can help us by providing:
- the location
- vehicle/trailer registration number
- boat name
- description of the person
When reporting any suspected poaching put your personal safety first. All calls and personal details are treated as confidential.
It is illegal to buy, sell or swap recreationally caught seafoodThese are offences against the Fisheries Act which can result in fines up to $250,000.
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