The high seas are areas of ocean not covered by any country’s Exclusive Economic Zone. New Zealand has international obligations in managing high seas fishing by New Zealand flagged vessels, which are met through a permitting regime under the Fisheries Act 1996.
The New Zealand government works to make sure high seas fisheries around the world are managed in a sustainable way. It particularly wants to make sure that fisheries New Zealanders are involved in are managed effectively, and that New Zealanders follow the rules wherever they fish on the high seas.
On the high seas, vessels must fly the flag of a country they are registered to. The only laws that apply are those of the vessel's "flag state", and any international obligations that country has signed up to.
Regional Fisheries Management organisations
The legislative provisions relating to high seas fishing are contained in Part 6A of the Fisheries Act 1996. These provisions ensure that New Zealand can meet its international obligations for the conservation and management of high seas fisheries. These obligations come from the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and the United Nations Agreement on Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks.
All operators of New Zealand registered vessels must have a high seas fishing permit if they want to take or transport fish on the high seas. In addition, all New Zealand nationals using foreign vessels on the high seas must have an authorisation (equivalent to a high seas fishing permit) from the government to which that vessel is "flagged".
The permitting regime gives the New Zealand government the ability to control and manage the activities of operators using New Zealand vessels on the high seas. The government can accordingly better engage in negotiations, secure in the knowledge that it is meeting international obligations.
You can find information about different aspects of the regime by clicking on the other headings under High Seas Fishing.