Blue cod in the Marlborough Sounds

Blue Cod Season reopens today.

Every year the Marlborough Sounds is closed for blue cod fishing from 1 September until 20 December. This gives time for the blue cod population in the sounds to undergo spawning undisturbed from fishing pressure.

Now that the area is open for blue cod fishing, its important that we know the rules and are following them. In the Challenger East area (which includes the Marlborough Sounds,) the limit is 2 blue cod per person per day, with a minimum size limit of 33cm.

The way to measure a blue cod is from the tip of the nose to the middle ray in the tail, measuring is more accurate if the nose is put up against an edge and the fish is measured on a flat hard surface.measuring-finfish-267-112


You can check the rules and guidelines for measurement on the free NZ Fishing Rules app, on the MPI website,, in the brochures available at our marina offices, or by free texting 9889 with the name of the species – eg: “blue cod” or “paua”. You’ll also see signs showing the fishing rules at many popular fishing spots and our launching ramps.

We all want blue cod to not only survive, but to thrive so we can protect the fishery for future generations. – MPI

MPI makes fisheries management decisions based on the best available information. One of the ways we find out what is happening with blue cod in the Marlborough Sounds is research, in particular, the recreational potting survey. This survey is commissioned by MPI and carried out by NIWA every four years, to give us key information about the stock status and size of blue cod in this important fishery. The latest potting survey recently finished in late November 2017.

MPI also uses local fisher knowledge to understand what is happening in local fisheries. The National Blue Cod Strategy is currently being developed to address local fisheries that are under pressure and to enhance those fisheries that are performing well.

Blue cod potting survey - NIWA 2017

Blue cod potting survey – NIWA 2017

During the first phase of development of the strategy, feedback was received from 376 people via the online survey in the Marlborough region, and many of the public and fishers attended the information sessions held in Blenheim and Nelson to talk about their local blue cod fisheries, and the changes they had seen. This information is essential to understanding the issues facing regional blue cod fisheries. Overall, 335 people went along to the South Island information sessions, and MPI received over 1,100 survey responses nationwide during the first round of engagement.

In general, feedback from fishers, tangata whenua, and the public indicated that blue cod fisheries in most areas are doing okay, however there are issues in some areas that need to be resolved. MPI has started developing options to address the areas that are under pressure, and to protect the areas that are doing well. MPI will start the second phase of public engagement early next year, seeking feedback on these proposed options and on additional or alternative measures.

It’s important that people continue to get involved and give feedback to make sure MPI get this strategy right. To keep up to date with the development of the strategy visit the MPI website, or follow the progree on the MPI fisheries page in the Nelson/Marlborough/Kaikoura region:

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