Know the cod rules

19:04, Aug 30 2012
Fishing map
Marlborough Sounds area map: Deep blue area - Marlborough Sounds area boundary. Red square - Maude Island no take zone

By the time you read this, the blue cod season in the inner Sounds is all but closed until December 19, so I thought it would be a good time to just run through the rules.

There still seems to be some confusion and just last week I had an elderly fellow ask if I could explain it in simple terms. Clearly the timing is right.

There really is no excuse for not knowing the rules as they have been in place for a while and the folks at what used to be the Fisheries Ministry (now the Primary Industries Ministry) in Grovetown are only too happy to explain anything about the regulations. Just pop in and ask. They also have all the brochures and information relating to all seafood gathering and what you can and cannot do.

Over the coming months I will cover more specific rules as the seasons approach, so you will know the rules.

When it comes to cod, the most important thing to remember until just before Christmas is that you are not allowed to catch and keep any blue cod within the restricted area of the Sounds. See the map above to check exactly what area that covers.

You are still allowed to catch cod outside this area but there are a couple of things you need to know.


The main thing to remember is that you must be able to prove you caught them outside the restricted area. Just trying to get away with saying it will end in tears.

By proof, I mean a track plotted on your GPS showing the day's activity or if you don't have one of those, you could take a few photos. If you choose this option then make sure you take it where the fish is caught and it must have recognisable landmarks in the background that clearly show you are outside the zone.

The size limits outside the closed zone are slightly different in that they do not need to be within the slot size that applied for the inner Sounds - so anything is OK over 30cm and a maximum of three per person a day.

Don't forget you must bring all blue cod back to shore in a whole state - you cannot just bring fillets in.

If you are staying out on the boat for a couple of days, you can eat your catch immediately but the limits still apply.

If you are using a flasher rig, be sure that you have a maximum of only two hooks, not three like some I have seen.

So, it's not terribly difficult to understand and if you are still in doubt call into the fisheries office or the sports shops and pick up a leaflet that explains the rules and leave it on your boat or in your tackle box. Better safe than sorry.

You can also accumulate your catch if you are away for more than one day, but be careful. You are not allowed to take three days' of cod and bring them back in bags of fillets. There is a maximum limit of six cod and they must be in a measurable whole state, gutted but not filleted.

The same rules apply as before - you must have certain proof that they were caught on different days and within the regs. The simplest way to do this would be to turn on the date function of your camera or phone so you can show any fisheries officer if they ask.

It is not a wise idea to try fooling them by cutting new tails in the fish, either, as they have seen enough fresh cod to know the difference. A blue cod is measured from the front of the nose to the end of the tail.

An idea one of the officers told me was to use the free size-limit stickers they have - you know, the ones about a metre long that most people stick to the side of the boat. A fisherman had shown him a neat tool for measuring cod using one of those stickers and it would be quite a cheap option, too.

It involved cutting a piece of stormwater pipe in half lengthways, maybe just a bit longer than the sticker, then sticking it on the inside of the half-round and gluing an end cap on one end. By doing this you stop the wet live cod from slipping all over the place or dropping on the floor and it simply slides up against the end cap and can be easily measured on the sticker. A pretty clever idea I thought.

Anyway, that covers the cod and, as I said, I will cover other seafood such as crayfish a little later after the females are out of "berry" as there are some interesting rules that relate to cray pots. In the meantime, get out and enjoy this great weather before the rain comes back.

The Marlborough Express