Catching blue cod this summer? Check out the new rules

Catching blue cod this summer? Check out the new rules

Longer days and brighter weather at this time of the year provide more opportunities to get out on the water and go fishing.

If you’re heading out to catch a feed of one of NZ’s favourites, the iconic blue cod, make sure you know the new rules before you go. In July, changes were made to the fishing rules for blue cod to improve the sustainability of this very important fishery.

Here’s an outline of the new rules:

  • the minimum legal size (MLS) for recreationally caught blue cod is now 33cm, with the exception of BCO 1 (upper North Island) where it is 30cm; 
  • the daily bag limit for recreationally caught blue cod now follows a ‘traffic light’ system;
  • all recreationally caught blue cod must be landed in a measurable state, unless immediately eaten on the fishing vessel from which it was taken; 
  • the minimum pot mesh size for blue cod is 54mm for all fishers; 
  • the recreational accumulation limit for blue cod is now set at two days (i.e. two daily bag limits per person, per multi-day trip) except for the Fiordland Marine Area where the accumulation limit is one day.

The traffic light system applies to the South Island and Chatham Islands and provides adaptive settings for daily bag limits in different areas, which can be changed when information suggests stock health is improving or declining.

This system reduces the recreational daily blue cod limits to two blue cod per person in ‘red’ areas, which are the areas at most risk of localised depletion, and higher limits of 10 and 15 in ‘orange’ and ‘green’ areas respectively, which hold healthier stocks of blue cod.

Fisheries New Zealand has also developed responsible fishing guidelines for blue cod, which outline how you can help ensure undersize blue cod survive when they are returned to the water.

The best way to protect small fish is to avoid catching them in the first place. To help with this, Fishery Officers will be handing out hooks over the summer to fishers who may not have the right size hooks in their tool kit.

You can find out more about blue cod handling and view the guidelines on the Fisheries New Zealand website:, or pick up a brochure from any South Island fisheries office.

During December and January, Fisheries New Zealand will be surveying fishers at key South Island boat ramps about blue cod. We’ll also be posting an online survey so keep any eye out for it on our website – we’re keen to hear about your on water experiences since the implementation of the new rules.

To keep up-to-date with the fishing rules for your area, download the free NZ Fishing Rules Mobile App from Google Play or the Apple Store, or visit the Fisheries New Zealand website:

13 November 2020

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