Page last updated: 25th November 2022
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 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.
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.
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 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.
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 electronically for each vessel registered to you.
All vessels regardless of size or method used are required to report fishing activity electronically.
All vessels listed in the Fisheries (Geospatial Position Reporting) Regulations 2017 are required to carry and operate a Geospatial Position Reporting device (GPR) on board. These are:
- New Zealand fishing vessels
- Foreign licensed fishing vessels
- Registered fish carriers
- Any other kind of vessel used for commercial fishing, except for tenders deployed from any vessel using any purse seine net
For more information view our Digital Monitoring page here.
Change of Vessel Ownership
When vessels change ownership (e.g. being sold), ownership details must be updated so they are reflected in the vessel registration.
The following vessel marking instructions must be met by vessel operators, as per Sections 9 to 16 of the Fisheries (Commercial Fishing) Regulations 2001.
Vessel operators must ensure to mark the vessel within 7 days of registering the vessel OR before the vessel is used for fishing, whichever comes sooner.
You must use block lettering and figures.
You must use block lettering and figures.
The height of letters and figures placed on the hull, superstructure, or inclined surfaces must be as specified in the following table:
Overall Length of Vessels (m) Minimum Height of Letters and Numbers (m) 28 or over 1.0 20 or over but less than 28 0.8 15 or over but less than 20 0.6 12 or over but less than 15 0.4 5 or over but less than 12 0.3 Less than 5 0.1
- Hyphen Length
The length of the hyphen must be half the height of the letters and figures.
- Stroke Width
The width of the stroke for all letters and the hyphen must be one-sixth of their height.
- Spaces Between Letters and Numbers
The space between letters and between figures and between letters and figures must not exceed a quarter of their height nor be less than one-sixth of their height.
- Spaces Between Adjacent Letters with Sloping Sides
The space between adjacent letters that have sloping sides must not be more that one-eighth of their height nor less than one-tenth of their height.
Name of Vessel
The name of the vessel must be marked in contrasting colours on both sides of the hull, with clear, legible letter figures. These letters must not be less than:
- 250mm in height.
- 125mm across.
- 25mm stroke width.
- 50mm from any other figure or letter.
Marking Registration Numbers
Operators of vessels less than 28m overall must mark their vessels with figures showing the registration number of the vessel on both sides of the forward plane of the hull. Foreign-owned New Zealand fishing vessels and vessels registered as fish carriers (under section 105 of the Act) are not subject to this regulation. If the vessel ceases to be registered, the operator must remove the vessel number within 7 days of the registration ceasing.
Marking of International Call Signs
Operators of foreign-owned New Zealand fishing vessels, vessels registered as fish carriers (under section 105 of the Act), or vessels that are 28m or more overall must mark their vessels with the vessel’s international call sign amidship on both sides of the hull immediately below the gunwale. If the vessel ceases to be registered, the operator must remove any letters or figures that identify that vessel as a vessel registered under the Act but must not remove the international call sign.
Colour & Maintenance of Letters and Figures
Figures of the registration number and, if required, the letters and figures of the international call sign must be painted on the vessel in white on a black background OR in black on a white background, whichever stands out most against the colour of the hull. Vessel operators, notified users, or masters of a vessel must ensure that the letters and figures of the name, registration number, and any international call sign are not removed, obscured, or obliterated from the vessel, and that the appropriate letters and figures are maintained, while the vessel is registered.
Display of False/Misleading Letters or Figures
You cannot display letters, figures, or a combination of letters and figures that may cause others to believe that:
- The vessel is any other vessel or is not a New Zealand fishing vessel or foreign-owned New Zealand fishing vessel.
- The vessel is registered or is any other registered vessel.
Alternative Marking Positions
Fishery officers may provide written approval to vessel operators to display letters and figures in alternate positions. For example, if the vessel is to be used for squid or any other type of fishing on which any letters or figures are likely to be quickly obscured or obliterated OR if the vessel has a hull shaped so that any letters or figures are likely to be obscured or obliterated.
It is sufficient compliance if the vessel operator ensures that the letters and figures are marked and maintained on both sides of the hull or superstructure of the vessel in the position and as nearly as possible to the size and manner approved in writing by a fishery officer.
All tenders must:
- Be marked on both sides of the hull with clear and legible letters and figures.
- Have the number on the tender preceded by the letter T with a hyphen (-).
- Have the figures and letters of the tender number painted in a colour that stands out most against the colour of the hull.
- If the vessel operates more than 1 tender, have a number on the tender between the letter T and the hyphen (-) to denote the number of the tender (e.g. T1-, T2-, T3-).
- A tender can’t be marked as the tender of more than 1 registered vessel, or simultaneously marked as a tender and as a registered vessel.
The operator of a registered vessel must ensure that the required figures and letters on the tender are maintained and are not removed, obscured, or obliterated.
A person must not display any figure, letter, or combination of letters or figures that may reasonably cause others to believe the tender is not a tender OR is another New Zealand fishing vessel or tender. The tender can’t display any markings if the vessel to which it is connected ceases to be registered.