Freshwater Fishing Licences Enter New Era

The freshwater fishing season begins on October 1. New licences are now on sale.

Fish & Game NZ chief executive Corina Jordan says around 100,000 anglers are expected to go freshwater fishing throughout the country.

“Freshwater anglers are a passionate bunch, and the start of the new season is firmly on their calendars.

“We expect a flurry of activity now the new season licences are on sale. We know people are keen to get out with family and friends, enjoy the outdoors, re-connect with nature and fish for food.”

While most angling takes place in the country’s easily accessible lowland rivers and lakes, this season will mark the introduction of a new management tool to better protect New Zealand’s more fragile fisheries, which are often located in the backcountry.

“The new Designated Waters Licence will see Kiwi anglers get a fairer share on some of the waterways that Fish & Game’s research has shown are subject to too much pressure – around two per cent of the country’s rivers.

“The new licence category will help us manage angling pressure by spreading angling effort around so that it isn’t concentrated in certain areas, which detracts from the angling experience and also has the potential to negatively impact the fisheries.”

Over the past ten years, Fish & Game has received increasing complaints from resident and non-resident anglers regarding overcrowding in a small number of fisheries that will now be managed through the Designated Waters Licence.

“Our research and monitoring show that a small percentage of non-resident anglers will intensely fish a local area, not only putting pressure on the fishery but also displacing other anglers. We’ve implemented this new fisheries management tool to help address that imbalance.”

In some fisheries, angler use has gone from a roughly 50:50 resident-to-non-resident split (in the early 2000s) to an 80:20 split favouring non-resident anglers. In most cases, pressure-sensitive fisheries now managed through the Designated Waters Licence, share common features. The rivers have very clear water, offer excellent sight fishing, hold large average-size trout, have high scenic value, and are often located in a wilderness or backcountry setting.

Anglers on the Hope River Designated Waters Fishery. Photo: Richard Cosgrove/Fish & Game NZ.

Jordan says that “with a majority of our non-resident anglers fishing our backcountry fisheries for four or fewer days, most anglers won’t be impacted by the change”.

“It’s important to note that only a small proportion of anglers contributing to unsustainable angling pressure will be affected by this change.

“We really appreciate and value overseas anglers, the contribution they make to the economy, as well as our organisation through purchasing licences, which helps us protect waterways.

“Anglers can find out more about the Designated Waters Licence, as well as information and updates on the upcoming season on our website –”

This post was last modified on 13/03/2024 9:36 pm

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