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Recreational sea fishing - $1 billion industry

20 Apr 16

Recreational sea fishing - $1 billion industry
Recreational fishing has $1 billion plus value

The value of recreational fishing has been established at nearly $1 billion a year.

The result is partly based on research among New Zealand fishers conducted by Horizon Research.

Fishing in the sea is a popular activity for hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders.


People participate in recreational fishing for a variety of reasons - to catch a delicious and healthy meal for the family, as an escape from life’s daily stresses, timeout with work colleagues where competition is rife, or simply teaching the kids how to catch their own healthy food.


The positives of recreational fishing reach far beyond the water’s edge into the lives of all New Zealanders due to the substantial contribution the industry makes to the economy, impacting on everyone’s quality of life.


The New Zealand Marine Research Foundation decided it was time we all had a better understanding of the economic contribution that fishing-related recreation makes at a national and regional level. A project was initiated and experienced international researchers, Southwick Associates from USA, were engaged.


Thanks to all the HorizonPoll participants who provided information on their expenditure on recreational fishing. This was scaled up to national estimates using detailed information from a year-long survey for fishing activity designed to provide harvest estimates for recreational fisheries to the Ministry for Primary Industries. They found that 600,000 kiwis fish in the sea annually, taking over 2.65 million fishing trips.


The results were released in April 2016 and we now know what recreational fishing is worth to the New Zealand economy. Kiwis spend a billion dollars a year on recreational fishing but the benefits don’t stop at the fish on the end of the line.


In addition, almost 109,000 international visitors sought a fishing experience while they were in New Zealand. With information provided by charter boat operators, we estimate 25% of these visitors came to New Zealand with the primary purpose of going saltwater fishing.  International visitors spend $89 million on marine fishing activities each year.


Overall, this expenditure ripples through the economy generating 1.7 billion dollars in economic activity, supporting 8100 jobs full time equivalent jobs and contributing $638 million to GDP.


The many firms who support fishers include retailers, boat builders, tackle manufacturers, suppliers, marinas, motels, restaurants, charters, media and more. They employ thousands of people who work hard to ensure fishermen can enjoy their day out on the water. This activity generates $342 million in salaries, wages and small business profits. It also adds a conservative $188 million in tax revenues to help keep New Zealand functioning.



Regional benefits
Relative to spending on other forms of recreation, it’s clear that people are willing to spend a lot of money on their fishing. For many fishers their boat is a major purchase, add on marina fees or a heavy duty towing vehicle and we have a convoy of money changing hands.
People also like to fish when on holiday. This activity drives money out of the main centers and into the regions, supporting much-needed jobs and businesses in coastal communities.
Recreational fishing is a winner at a personal, regional and national level. The insights in this economic report have been provided so that managers have the information they require to make more pragmatic and effective management decisions, to both rebuild New Zealand’s fisheries to abundant levels and consider the future use and conservation of marine resources.
This project was funded by the New Zealand Marine Research Foundation with the support of fishers, marine industry contributors, Guardians of the Sea Charitable Trust and LegaSea.
The full public report is available at
To support this work there is also a link for donations.