Fisheries Infosite

Region - Challenger (FMA 7)

Key statistics
Recreational significance High
Customary significance High
Environmental importance High
Reported commercial catch1 (tonnes)
Quota value estimate2 (NZ$m)
Exports estimate2 (NZ$m)
1 Reported commercial catch is calculated for the 12 month period to 30/09/2025
2 Quota value and exports are calculated pro-rata to reported commercial catch for the 12 month period to 30/09/2025
Regional characteristics
Area 334,000 km2
Coastline 3,390 kms
Productivity Medium
Climate Temperate-sub-tropical
Total population2 144,000
Tangata Whenua2 14,000
Recreational fishers (est. 20%) 29,000
2 Census 2006
The Challenger Region encompasses three distinct areas; the Marlborough Sounds, Golden and Tasman Bays, and the West Coast.

The region has thousands of visitors each year, with many coming to dive or fish or play around in boats. The natural beauty, warm climate and sheltered waters at the top of the South Island help make this a nationally-significant recreational fishing area.

The region is also important to Maori customary fishers, who harvest a wide variety of fish, shellfish, and seaweed species.

The region contains significant commercial fisheries, with most fish landings being to Greymouth, Westport, Motueka and Nelson (Australasia’s biggest fishing port).

A wide range of marine mammals and seabird species are found in the Challenger region, including the endangered Hector’s dolphin. Many areas are either closed or restricted to commercial and recreational set netting to prevent incidental by-catch of Hector’s dolphin in nets.