Fishers are being advised to download the NZ Fisheries Rules App to their phones before heading out these holidays to save getting caught out by new regulations.
Catch limits and sizes vary between regions around New Zealand and with an influx of visitors to Northland, many - including locals - may be unaware of the rules.
Acting fisheries compliance national manager Garreth Jay said his team was expecting an influx of fishers over the coming months and it was important everyone did their part to protect the fishery.
"We're very lucky in New Zealand – none of us are too far away from the coast and the opportunity to go out into nature and catch some kaimoana.
"Many of us have great memories of fishing with our friends and whānau and we all want to help make sure that continues and that there are enough fish in the water for future generations to enjoy.
"The key thing to remember is that the rules can and do change. You can't rely on your knowledge of last summer's rules to see you through. For example, rules have changed over the last year for blue cod, crayfish and set netting."
Fortunately, there's an easy way to get up-to-date and look after our fisheries – download the NZ Fishing Rules App before heading out. It outlines all the latest rules about catch limits, fishing methods, and restrictions to areas, so you never get caught out.
Whangārei fisherman John Vowless said his wife Trish has the app on her phone, which they regularly consult.
"There'd be nothing worse than coming home from a fish and being checked by fisheries and having something illegal like undersize fish or excess amounts and some you're not allowed to take at all. Sometimes it's different for areas as well.
"We use the app a lot for size and numbers limits. Every now and then, you'll catch something you don't catch often, like John Dory, and it's good to be able to look up the size."
He said he'd also found the app useful after catching a couple of packhorse rock lobster as the size limits and method of measuring was different to spiny rock lobster.
Packhorse rock lobster are one of the two types of lobster in New Zealand. While the packhorse is green, it is larger (in fact the largest in the world) than the red spiny rock lobster so they have different legal size limits: the Packhorse is measured by the length of the tail (216mm minimum) and the Red Rock Lobster across the width, with different measurements between males (54mm) and females (60mm).
It is also illegal to take pregnant females, which carry eggs on the tail at this time of year (up to one million at a time depending on locality and size).
The legal combined species cray limit is six per person.
There is an infringement of $250 for excess and undersize crays.
As for other finfish and shellfish, per person, the legal daily limit on Northland's east coast is seven snapper and 10 on the west coast, plus a combined bag limit of 20 for other varieties such as trevally, kahawai and tarakihi.
A Whangārei former commercial fisherman told the Advocate he didn't use the app as he felt well-versed with the rules. However, he was surprised to learn the above legal catch limit.
Pipi, cockles and tuatua are limited to 150 per person, oysters – 250, kina – 50, mussels – 50 and paua – 10 with a minimum size of 125mm.
The scallop limit is 20 per person per day, with a further 20 allowed each for up to two safety people on board a vessel (a maximum of 60 for three-plus people) with a minimum size of 100mm.
To help get the message across this summer, Fisheries New Zealand is launching advertising across radio, TV, social media and where weather updates are obtained. Signs will also appear at wharves fish and chip shops.
• Check the fishing rules for your area by downloading the free Smartphone NZ Fishing rules app by texting 9889 or by scanning the QR code. The app works even when you have no coverage.
• Free text the name of the species you are fishing for (eg blue cod or paua) to 9889 and receive legal size and bag limit via return text.
• Report poaching, suspicious or illegal activity to 0800 4 POACHER (0800 476 224).
• More information about fishing rules and how to download the app is available online at https://www.fisheries.govt.nz/rules.