All vessels that are used to take fish, aquatic life, or seaweed for sale from New Zealand waters must be registered. You can apply to register a vessel online or alternatively you can submit a manual application.

Vessels can be registered under one of the following categories:

  • Fishing Vessel 28 metres and under in length
  • Fishing Vessel over 28 metres in length
  • Foreign Owned Vessel

A vessel must be registered to an Operator. An Operator is the person who has lawful possession and control of the vessel because of ownership, lease, sublease, charter, subcharter, etc.

Once a vessel is registered, the vessel will be given a ‘vessel registration number’ and the vessel details will be placed on the public vessel register. Once a vessel has been issued a registration number, that vessel retains its number while it is a commercial vessel. The operator is issued a Certificate of Registration (COR) for the vessel. Contact us for information from the vessel register.

All vessels listed in the Fisheries (Geospatial Position Reporting) Regulations 2017 are required to carry and operate a Geospatial Position Reporting device (GPR). You can apply to register a GPR online or alternatively you can submit a manual application to FishServe with the fee. If the GPR has not been registered previously, you are required to submit a Supplier Declaration Form completed and signed by the supplier of the GPR with your application to register your GPR. The supplier declaration can be posted, faxed or emailed to FishServe. A list of the standards required is available from the MPI website.

Forms are available on our FishServe forms page here.

Notified User

If other people will be using the vessel, they may have to register separately as a Notified User. A Notified User is a person apart from the Operator, who can use the vessel. In this situation a Notified User application must be completed manually and be submitted to FishServe with the fee.

When a Notified User is registered the details will show on the vessel register and a Certificate of Notification will be issued to the Operator and the Notified User.

Notified Users cannot be registered for foreign-owned NZ fishing vessels and overseas persons cannot be Notified Users on any vessel. A skipper and/or crew of a vessel who are using the Operator’s permit do not need to be registered as Notified Users.

Fish Carriers

Any vessel used for fish carrying needs to be registered, unless it is already registered as a fishing vessel. The Operator needs to apply to register the vessel as a Fish Carrier. Name and address details of a NZ authorised agent must be supplied if the Operator is an overseas person. The Operator will be issued a Certificate of Registration and all Fish Carriers are listed on the Fishing Vessel Register. Fish Carrier registration requires consent from the Chief Executive of the Ministry for Primary Industries.

Vessel Register

Vessel registrations are maintained on a public register. The name of the Operator, the name and number of the vessel, and other details, will be listed in the Fishing Vessel Register. The register also includes Notified Users and Fish Carriers. Contact us for information from the vessel register.

Your Obligations

If you are registered as a vessel operator/notified user and you hold a current fishing permit, you are required to report all commercial fishing activity for each vessel that is registered to you.

From 1 October 2017 if the vessel is over 28 metres in length and using a trawling method (Bottom Trawl, Midwater Trawl etc.) you are required to report all fishing activity electronically. For more information view our Digital Monitoring page here.

For all other vessels you are required to submit Catch Effort Returns for each month or part of a month that the vessel is registered. If no fishing occurred during a month on a particular vessel, you are required to submit a Nil Return.

From 1 April 2018 all vessels regardless of size or method used will be required to report fishing activity electronically. For more information view our Digital Monitoring page here.

Change of Vessel Ownership

When vessels are sold they may not need to be re-registered by the new owner. That means that if a vessel is sold and the operator of the vessel will be the same under the new ownership, then there is no need for the vessel registration to change.

However, if a vessel becomes owned by an overseas person, then that change must be notified. The responsibility for notification of the change lies with the Operator, and once notified the registration will be immediately cancelled.