Any person who wishes to take fish for the purpose of sale can only do so under the authority of a commercial fishing permit issued under the Fisheries Act 1996
(the Act). Permits are issued for a period of
between one and five years upon payment of an application fee. It is up to the applicant to choose the duration of the permit
. There are few restrictions on who may be a permit holder. All permits that are issued allow fishers to target most species. There are however some restrictions. Those persons wishing to target rock lobster or paua, for example, must have a minimum holding of Annual Catch Entitlement
(ACE) for that stock
before fishing can commence. For a limited range of other stocks, those on schedule 4C of the Act, the permit
holder will only be authorised to target those species if they held a permit for that species as at 30 September 1992.
The right to fish commercially is a valuable right. In return for this right commercial fishers are obliged to:
- Fish from a registered fishing vessel.
- Keep records of catch, effort and landings.
- Report regularly to the Ministry their effort and landings.
- Not 'dump' their fish (with limited exceptions).
- Land catch to approved licensed fish receivers (LFR) (with limited exceptions).
- Furnish Monthly Harvest Returns (MHRs) detailing all the catches made for that month by the permit holder, as they may fish from more than one vessel.
The Ministry of Fisheries is required to keep a permit register. This register is a public register for the purposes of the Privacy Act 1993 and held electronically and is open for inspection. This has been contracted and is managed by FishServe.