Waikato River Fisheries Bylaws

Waikato River Fisheries Bylaws

The Waikato River settlement established a new era of co-management that enables Waikato-Tainui in partnership with the Crown and with input from river users to establish fisheries bylaws for the Waikato River.

Fisheries bylaws allow Waikato-Tainui to exercise traditional management practices to prohibit and restrict, or enable fishing for cultural and sustainability reasons.

This will ensure that the fisheries resources of the Waikato River, including its lakes and streams, are enhanced and sustained into the future for all New Zealanders.

The Waikato Raupatu River Trust (Trust), a tribal entity of Waikato-Tainui, is responsible for working with our people to identify and propose fisheries bylaws to the Minister for Primary Industries. The Trust together with Waikato River Kaitiaki (guardians nominated by Waikato-Tainui marae) collaborated with the commercial eel industry in developing these bylaws.

The bylaws only apply to the fish species managed under the Fisheries Act 1996 found within the Waikato-Tainui Fisheries Area which includes the Waikato River its tributaries and lakes from Port Waikato to Karapiro, and part of the Waipa River from its junction with the Waikato River at Ngaruawaahia to the Puniu Stream.

The new bylaws give effect to the tribe’s Environment Plan – Tai Tumu, Tai Pari, Tai Ao.

BYLAW 1: Incidental catch and release of eels weighing more than the maximum size limit of 2kg and female longfin eels that are in the migratory morphological phase below migration barriers

  1. Notwithstanding Bylaw 5 and regulation 50 of the Fisheries (Commercial Fishing) Regulations 2001, a commercial fisher may take, possess and hold eels taken from within the Waikato-Tainui Fisheries Area that weigh more than 2kg for the purpose of transferring and releasing those eels below physical migration barriers as soon as reasonably practicable.
  2. Notwithstanding Bylaw 6, a commercial fisher may take, possess and hold female longfin eels taken from within the Waikato-Tainui Fisheries Area that are in migratory morphological phase for the purpose of transferring and releasing those eels below physical migration barriers as soon as reasonably practicable.
  3. When exercising this bylaw a commercial fisher must inform a Fishery Officer as soon as reasonably practicable when taking and being in possession of eels under this bylaw and must inform a Fishery Officer as soon as reasonably practicable of the site and time of release of those eels taken under this bylaw.

BYLAW 2: Temporary prohibition on the taking of fisheries resources from any area within the Waikato-Tainui Fisheries Area due to the occurrence of a human death

  1. The Trust may prohibit the taking of fisheries resources from any area within the Waikato-Tainui Fisheries Area due to the occurrence of a human death.
  2. When making a decision to prohibit the taking of fisheries resources, the Trust:
  1. must specify the relevant area to be closed, subject to sub-clause (e);
  2. must specify the period of the closure, subject to sub-clause (f);
  3. must specify any terms and conditions that the Trust considers appropriate;
  4. must publicly notify the details of the closure;
  5. must not close more than 10 kilometres of any river or stream, or any lake, pond or water body in its entirety; and
  6. must not close any area for a period exceeding 14 days

BYLAW 3: Seasonal closure prohibiting the commercial harvest of any eels from specific streams and rivers of the Whangamarino Wetland during the tuna heke (eel migration) from 1 March to 31 May.

  1. No commercial fisher may, between 1 March and 31 May (inclusive) take eels from the following areas:
  1. The Maramarua River and its tributaries between its intersection with State Highway 2(at 37°14.83’S and 175°11.10’E) and its junction with the Whangamarino River (at 37°18.32’S and 175°05.09’E).
  2. The Whangamarino River, between its junction with the Waikato River, including an area enclosed by a circle of 200m radius with a centre point at the junction of both rivers (at 37°17.60’S and 175°03.53’E) and its intersection with Falls Road (at 37°20.70’S and 175°10.99’E).
  3. The Pungarehu Stream, between its junction with the Whangamarino River (at 37°20.73’S and 175°10.69’E) and Lake Waikare, including an area enclosed by a circle of 200m radius with a centre point at the mouth of the stream on Lake Waikare (at 37°24.39’S and 175°12.62’E).
  4. Te Onetea Stream between its junction with Lake Waikare and the Waikato River, including areas enclosed by circles of a 200m radius with centre points at the mouths of the stream on Lake Waikare (at 37°25.90’S and 175°10.12’E, and at 37°26.10’S and 175°09.84), and at the junction of the stream with the Waikato River (at 37°26.15’S and 175°08.51’E).
  5. Notwithstanding the areas closed in (a) to (d) the seasonal closure does not apply to Lake Waikare.

BYLAW 4: Minimum weight for commercially harvested eels

  1. No commercial fisher may take or possess any shortfin eel taken within the Waikato-Tainui Fisheries Area weighing less than 300g.
  2. No commercial fisher may take or possess any longfin eel taken within the Waikato-Tainui Fisheries Area weighing less than 400g.

BYLAW 5: Maximum weight for commercially harvested eels

  1. No commercial fisher may take or possess any eel taken within the Waikato-Tainui Fisheries Area weighing more than 2kg.

BYLAW 6: Prohibition on taking of female migrant longfin eels

  1. No commercial fisher may take or possess any female longfin eel taken within the Waikato-Tainui Fisheries Area that is in the migratory morphological phase.