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The Quota Management System provides for the sustainable utilisation of New Zealand's fish stocks.

The QMS covers 99

species of fish 

91% of New Zealand's commercial catch comes from sustainably managed fish stocks

There are 641 fish stocks managed by the QMS

New Zealand's fisheries have been managed through a world-leading Quota Management System (QMS) for more than 30 years.

Established in 1986, the QMS manages New Zealand's fish stocks and catch.

Catch limits based on the best available scientific information are the primary means for managing fish stock sustainability in New Zealand.


Species managed in the QMS are divided into Quota Management Areas (QMAs) – geographic areas within New Zealand's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). For example, pāua is divided into thirteen QMAs for fisheries management purposes. Different rules for commercial, recreational and customary fishers can exist in each QMA.

The Fisheries Minister sets a Total Allowable Catch (TAC) limit for each fish stock to help ensure the sustainability of each fishery. The TAC is the total maximum amount, expressed in tonnes, of a stock that can be taken each fishing year. By law, catch limits for every fish stock must be set at a sustainable level.

The Oceans and Fisheries Minister divides the TAC into allowances for customary and recreational fishing, and a Total Allowable Commercial Catch (TACC) for commercial harvesting. An allowance is also made for other sources of fishing-related mortality, including illegal fishing.


Each stock that is managed under the QMS is divided into quota shares which provide the quota owners with the right to harvest a proportion of the TACC in perpetuity. Just like shares in a company, quota shares can be bought or sold. Quota owners have a strong interest in looking after the fishery because a healthy, stable fishery equates to valuable quota assets.

Blackfoot and yellowfoot pāua are managed under the QMS as combined fish stocks under the QMS. As of 2003, the total asset value of New Zealand’s pāua resource managed through the QMS was $330 million, with the Chatham Islands having the highest regional value of $75 million.


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