What's Fishing Worth?

$52,819 of $100,000 goal
Given by 689 generous donors in around 8 months

We know the value of a good day on the water. We know how important it is to feed the people we love. But what is fishing worth to NZ?



LegaSea is a strong advocate for better recreational fishing and more fish in the water. One of the things we come up against again and again is the lack of hard evidence on our contribution to the New Zealand economy.

Current high levels of commercial fishing catch are strongly defended because their export returns to the economy can be readily quantified. However, despite fishing being recognised as one of the most popular recreational activities in New Zealand, we’ve never stopped to add up exactly how much it is worth to the country.

For recreational fishing to be valued by our leaders, the decision makers and our communities, we need to know what it is worth to the economy.

The New Zealand Marine Research Foundation (NZMRF) are stepping up to the challenge. They have contracted the international experts on valuing recreational fishing to research and publish a report describing the value of recreational fishing to the New Zealand economy.

We want to empower our Government Ministers to make more informed decisions that will increase the value we get from our marine resources. This research is the tool we need to convince our leaders that there is much more value in rebuilding our fisheries for future generations.



We need to quantify, in real terms, what successful recreational fishing is worth to retailers, suppliers, boat builders, manufacturers, media, charter operators, hospitality, accommodation, transport and tourism.

This research will give us:

- valid estimates of expenditure, jobs, tax revenues, income and other contributions to the national economy due to recreational fishing

- a measure of the economic impacts per kilo of fish harvested by recreational fishers.

We can’t tell you what the results will be (which is why we need to research it in the first place!), but similar projects overseas have led to:

- enhanced fisheries management

- more profitable use of marine resources, for the benefit of the country

- marine protected areas for conservation and non-commercial use

- greater public and government recognition of recreational fishing importance

- policies to enhance and rebuild fisheries for future generations.



This research gives us the evidence we need to advocate for recreational fishers. Overseas, similar research has led to many positive outcomes for recreational fishing interests, and their national economies.

Recreational fishing is now recognised as a legitimate, valuable industry in Alaska, Florida, Costa Rica, Panama Mexico and Australia. It’s time New Zealanders understood and acknowledged the value recreational fishing brings to our great nation.

The independence of this research is incredibly valuable. We want recreational fishers to own the research so it is ours to use when and where it is needed.



There are several organisations involved in something this big, here’s who’s involved so far:


We’re the ones raising the money. We’ve partnered with the New Zealand Marine Research Foundation to make the public appeal, talk to local businesses, and write all those grant applications! We know people who fish – we ARE people who fish. So we’ve taken up the mantle to make this happen.


The Marine Research Foundation funds research on aquatic plants and animals, and on improving the understanding of the interactions between people and marine ecosystems. They’ve commissioned Southwick Associates to gather and analyse the information needed to estimate the economic impact of recreational fishing industry in New Zealand. As a registered charitable organisation, all donations to Marine Research Foundation are tax deductible.


The New Zealand Sport Fishing Council and its affiliated clubs (59 clubs with 32,000 members) have contributed to the Marine Research Foundation since its establishment in 1996 – currently $1 per annum per member. It is this vision that allows for important and relevant research to take place today.


Southwick is an international resource valuation company with over 25 years’ experience. This includes producing the Recreational Fisheries Economic Impacts Assessment Manual for the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization for developing countries. Two New Zealand-based research companies will help coordinate surveys and source complementary information from MPI and Statistics NZ, giving the project valuable local input.


Blue Water Marine Research provides fisheries management advice and marine research solutions to government, research institutes, charitable trusts, national and regional fisheries organisations.


Moana Consultants have 14 years experience in providing advocacy, liaison and a range of communications services to fisheries and environmental organisations.



The total budget for this project is $400,000. It breaks down as:

$250,000: The research project

$40,000: Scoping and feasibility

$50,000: Fundraising administration

$60,000: Results publicity and promotion

These costs will be funded through a number of sources including:


There are businesses out there that are totally or partially reliant on the existence of a thriving recreational fishing sector.

Putting a value on their industry could mean great things for their businesses. We’ve gone to these people and asked them to pitch in already through a separate campaign.


There are many grant options that we’re applying for and chasing down. We’re also open to funding from other sources.


That’s you! This research will make a difference to how recreational fishing is viewed in future management decisions for years to come. We’re not asking for a bigger bag limit or to end commercial fishing, we just want more fish in the water.

We’re trying something different to achieve this – a research project of this size has never been funded by the public before. We know you think it’s important, so we’d love it if you’d contribute too.



You might be used to crowdfunding projects where you get a t-shirt or mug. But those things cost us money we think it’s better to spend your hard earned cash on the project.

But we still want to say thanks.

Every donor to this project will be acknowledged, kept informed as the project progresses and will receive the final results as soon as they are available.

And because the money is going directly to the New Zealand Marine Research Foundation, a registered charitable trust, you can claim 33% of your donation back through your taxes.

When you get your refund you can let John Key buy you that t-shirt you’ve always wanted!



The peer-reviewed paper will be completed and given to the Government in mid 2016, however a lot of work is needed before we get to that point. Some of it’s been done already, and some is still to go.

Stage 1 (April to May 2015) - Complete agreed work plan, present for review by the Marine Amateur Fisheries Advisory Group (Ministry for Primary Industries), and develop questionnaire

Stage 2 (June to August 2015) – Profile data, refine methodology. Review other data, pre-test questionnaire, review, finalise survey panels

Stage 3 (August to November 2015) – Charter boat survey for spend by international tourists. Develop spending profiles and estimates, apply economic models by region and nationally

Stage 4 (November 2015 to January 2016) – Report results in technical format with approved summary for public outreach. 8 weeks

Stage 5 (Mid 2016) – Produce high quality paper and submit to peer reviewed journal

LegaSea's involvement (page creator)

We’re the ones raising the money. We’ve partnered with the New Zealand Marine Research Foundation to make the public appeal, talk to local businesses, and write all those grant applications!

We know people who fish - we ARE people who fish. So we’ve taken up the mantle to make this happen.

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Latest update

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What’s Fishing Worth? 1.7 billion dollars!  8 April 2016

The results are out. The New Zealand Marine Research Foundation’s research has found that our recreational fishing is worth $1.7 billion to the national economy.

Kiwis each spend, on average, $1400 per year on fishing. When our spending is combined with international visitors’ expenditure it all adds up to a grand total of $946 million per annum. Our fishing also supports 8,100 jobs and generates $1.7 billion in economic activity each year.

Calculating all this wouldn’t have been possible if it wasn’t for your generous donation. Thank you.

What happens next? The full technical report, some 100 pages, is going through a peer review process and will be published later in the year. In the meantime, we think that you, your mates and our country’s decision makers want to know how much recreational fishing as an industry is worth.

LegaSea’s view is that more fish in the water means better fishing experiences, more tourism and more economic growth. Sounds pretty positive huh.

The foundation have published the highlights in an economic report which you can download here.


If you want to see more research like this, please consider making another donation to the Foundation - After reading the report, I'm sure you'll agree that they're producing high quality research which is highly valued by New Zealanders.

You can donate to to the foundation at https://www.givealittle.co.nz/org/nzmrf

If you would like a copy posted to you, please email matthew@legasea.co.nz

Thank you on behalf of LegaSea and the New Zealand Marine Research Foundation.

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Latest donations

Guest Donor
Guest Donor on 24 Mar 2016
Guest Donor
Guest Donor on 20 Feb 2016
This research is so obvious and urgent. I heard about this from the Legasea speaker at Tairua Pauanui Sports Fishing Club on Thursday night. I am really upset that the fishing has deteriorated so badly down here. I cant find any crays and the scallops have been hammered. Come on people, please join in and make a donation
Gerald Muir on behalf of the One Base Counties Sports Fishing Club.
Gerald Muir on behalf of the One Base Counties Sports Fishing Club. on 09 Feb 2016
Great 4 day Event at the One Base Counties Sports Fishing Club Comp. Awesome to see some new young anglers their. Many thanks for representing our Fishing Future Legasea.
MacSkipper on 14 Jan 2016
Good idea!
George New
George New on 30 Dec 2015
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This page was created on 10 Aug 2015 and closed on 31 Mar 2016.