Marlin Management in NZ and the Pacific
Since the first sport fishing captures in 1914, to the present day, over 22,000 striped marlin have been certified and weighed in New Zealand.
The New Zealand Sport Fishing Council, its 56 member clubs, and over 32,000 affiliated members provide substantial support for the ongoing research, management input and advocacy of billfish and other migratory species like tuna and sharks.
Having healthy and abundant game fisheries generates much-needed business for coastal communities and surrounding districts. It also contributes to New Zealand's reputation as a world class fishing destination.
Marlin is a recreational-only fishery in New Zealand and the NZSFC is striving to keep it that way!
Marlin management and advocacy
Below is a record of marlin management and how the NZSFC is involved. If a report or document is available, click on the right-hand image to download. Latest activity tops the list.
Maritime rules purse seine fishing. MPI. January 2018
The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has compiled an information sheet for fishers to help people understand the rules relating to purse seine fishing in New Zealand waters and the responsibilities of commercial and recreational vessel operators. The main recommendation is that commercial purse seiners need to keep clear of recreational vessels that are on a school of skipjack. Similarly, if a commercial vessel is first on a skipjack school when a recreational vessel approaches, the recreational vessel must keep clear.
Report - International Billfish Symposium. Taiwan. 4 - 8 November 2013
Many of the world's leading players in the field of billfish research and up-and-coming scientists were at the 5th International Billfish Symposium in Taipei, Taiwan, in the first week of November. The focus was on the global conservation and sustainable management of billfishes. With support from the NZ Sport Fishing Council and Whangamata Ocean Sports Club John Holdsworth attended to present the early results from the marlin ID project led by Clive Roberts and Lara Shepherd from Te Papa.
NZSFC Update - New Zealanders love their marlin. June 2013
Striped marlin has been a recreational-only species for years yet commercial fishers continue to argue for a regulation change so they can take and sell marlin. The New Zealand Sport Fishing Council is vigorously opposed. Club records show that marlin fishing has improved significantly since the 1990s, effectively proving that commercial catch was impacting on the availability of fish to members and charter fishers who depend on them.
MPI Media statement - No changes to management of Striped marlin. 24 May 2013
The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has released this media statement advising that current management of striped marlin will be maintained. Specifically, "The views of the two sectors remain largely unchanged after talks held in November 2012 and May 2013. The Ministry for Primary Industries believes the current management provides the best balance. It allows for the overall value of the fishery to be maintained, particularly as consensus has not been reached". WHAT A WIN!
Media release - Marlin NOT for sale. 22 May 2013
Regulations protecting striped marlin as a recreational-only fishery are under threat by commercial fishermen who want to keep and sell marlin. Recreational fishing groups are adamant that marlin must remain a non-commercial species. Read the media release Marlin NOT for sale here then sign the online 'Marlin are not for sale' position statement and make your voice heard.
MPI Discussion document - Future management options for Striped marlin. 10 May 2013
The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has released this discussion paper outlining possible options for alternative management arrangements for marlin. This paper will form the basis of further discussion. A Highly Migratory Species Fish Plan meeting is due to be held on 21 May. These management options will no doubt be vigorously debated.
NZSFC Update - Marlin are ours but for how much longer? April 2013
Striped marlin has been a recreational-only species since 1988, when Japanese tuna longline vessels were banned from fishing in northern New Zealand. Domestic commercial longliners are now campaigning for a regulation change to allow them to keep and sell marlin.
NZSFC response to MPI. December 2012
The New Zealand Sport Fishing Council respond to views expressed at the late November meeting to review marlin management. NZSFC are concerned that any loosening of regulations to allow commercial landings of marlin in New Zealand will only increase mortality in the short-term. The Pacific marlin stock is already approaching an overfished state.
NSW striped marlin interactions study. 2006
This 2006 report examines the relationship between commercial and recreational catches of striped marlin off eastern Australia. The above NZSFC response to MPI makes reference to this study. There is some interesting comments regarding the interaction between the sectors in the marlin fishery and sustainability of the stock. Can we learn anything from their experiences?
Marlin management workshop. 23 November 2012
Minutes by the Ministry for Primary Industries, of a meeting involving MPI, commercial and recreational interests, to share views on management of marlin in New Zealand and the Pacific. MPI note the stock is approaching an 'overfished state'. Commercial interests want to be able to land marlin that are dead when brought to the boat. Read these MPI notes to understand how the NZSFC is advocating that commercial fishers avoid catching marlin, and that marlin remain a recreational-only species.
NZSFC Media release - Marlin off the Menu. 6 October 2012
The New Zealand Sport Fishing Council urge consumers not to buy marlin products, and to tell retailers and restaurants to take Marlin off the Menu. Marlin has been a recreational-only fishery in NZ since 1988. Anglers are serious about protecting marlin from commercial exploitation.
IGFA letter - US ban marlin imports. 5 October 2012
President Obama has signed off on the Billfish Conservation Act, effectively banning the importation of all billfish into mainland USA. Around 30,000 billfish are imported annually. The International Game Fish Association (IGFA) and others championed this legislation. The NZSFC is a member of the IGFA and is pleased with this success.
NZSFC Fish File 2011 - 1987 Billfish moratorium.
In the 1950s New Zealand's world class marlin fishery was threatened by rapidly increasing commercial longlining in the South Pacific. By the 1980s local longliners were getting stuck into billfish and recreational catch declined markedly. In 1987 the NZSFC successfully negotiated a moratorium to prohibit commercials taking marlin for sale. In return recreational fishers had to tag and release 50% of the marlin catch for research purposes. This November 2011 Fish File outlines the moratorium process.
Conservation Measure for Striped marlin in the southwest Pacific. December 2006
As far back as 2006 the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) cautioned that the regional stock assessment for striped marlin in the southwest Pacific indicated consistent declines in abundance. The WCPFC recommended a precautionary management approach, that there be no increases in fishing mortality as any increase is likely to move the stock towards an overfished state.