Fisheries Infosite

Region - South-East Coast (FMA 3)

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 205,000 km2
Coastline 1,490 kms
Productivity Medium
Climate Temperate-sub-tropical
Total population2 646,000
Tangata Whenua2 49,000
Recreational fishers (est. 20%) 129,000
2 Census 2006
The Southeast Region has three main fisheries areas: Kaikoura, Canterbury and Otago.

Kaikoura and Otago are rocky reef systems with kelp forests and clear waters. The reef systems extend into the sea, creating underwater canyons and narrow shelf areas.

Between these places, is a coastline dominated by a shallow shelf of sandy mud that extends some distance offshore. This is essentially a marine extension of the Canterbury Plains. Water clarity in the area is sometimes affected by major rivers and this attracts Hector’s dolphins.

The narrow shelf areas that connect the rocky and sandy-mud areas are rich in biodiversity. These areas are often fish nursery areas and migratory pathways.

There are many opportunities to fish and dive in the region, which makes the area important to local customary and recreational fishers.

The Southeast Region contains New Zealand’s second and third largest fishing ports – Lyttelton and Timaru – which are port to many deep sea trawlers.

A significant inshore trawl fleet is also based in the region. This fleet catches most of the red (Akaroa) cod sold on New Zealand’s domestic market. Rock lobster and paua are important fisheries in the reef areas.

There is an interest in near-shore aquaculture in the region. To find out about the region’s aquaculture, visit

Iconic species
Image drawing for RedCod (RCO)
           Red cod
Image drawing for Cockle (COC)


Image drawing for Sand Flounder (SFL)