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Fisheries Law

Fisheries law specialists recognised throughout new Zealand and the South Pacific as industry leaders, Oceanlaw New Zealand has a unique combination of commercial, defence and civil litigation teams that few can match. We have real experience gained over many years of practice in this specialist area.

The nature of the fishing industry often requires that matters be dealt with on an urgent basis and our practitioners travel widely and at short notice. We have built up an effective network of support services, including forensic accountants, specialist investigators and other experts. We advise on EEZ and High Seas issues

Our Services Include:

Fisheries Commercial

Oceanlaw New Zealand’s commercial team offers clients cost effective advice across a wide range of commercial matters relating to the fishing industry. The services our commercial team provides include:

  • Company and business formation
  • Advising on sales and purchases of businesses, vessels and quota
  • Establishment and operation of Joint ventures
  • Protection of assets including quota and vessels
  • Preparing, catching and commercial fishing agreements
  • Fishing contracts
  • Risk management and compliance contracts
  • Advising on financing issues and preparation of loan, financing and security agreements

Fisheries Defence

Oceanlaw New Zealand has established itself as the leading fisheries defence lawyers in the South Pacific. The complexity of the fisheries legislation and draconian forfeiture provisions requires a high level of skill and understanding of the fishing business.

The Oceanlaw New Zealand defence team has been involved in some of the most complex and serious fisheries prosecutions ever undertaken in the South Pacific. The combination of our knowledge of the fishing industry, prosecution/defence experience and specialist expertise and skills, allows us to represent fisheries clients at a level which few other law firms would be capable of duplicating.

Our fisheries team has successfully acted for a large number of the major fishing companies in New Zealand Fisheries, establishing us as leading Maritime and Fishing lawyers.

Civil Litigation

Oceanlaw New Zealand’s civil litigation team has extensive experience in successfully reviewing Government and Ministry policies, administrative decisions and regulations. Our team has been at the centre of a significant number of the major fisheries judicial cases in the last 10 years.

We have also represented clients at Parliamentary and State Service enquiries, administrative tribunals and Ministry review panels.

We also regularly act for clients on a wide range of civil litigation issues arising from the fishing industry. When appropriate, we operate with a select team of Barristers with whom we have developed a strong working relationship over a number of years of successful litigation.

Oceanlaw New Zealand’s litigation team also has experience in providing representation in mediation and arbitration dispute resolutions.

EEZ Jurisdictions

We have an in-depth knowledge and expertise in NZ Fisheries laws and are well placed to advise on vessel seizures, prosecutions, and the like. We have the largest in-house collection of fisheries caselaw precedents of any firm in New Zealand.

In addition, team members regularly contribute to leading New Zealand publications on fisheries laws.

Our specialization in this field, however also extends to South Pacific forum jurisdictions. Oceanlaw New Zealand has provided legal and drafting advice to Pacific Island states on Fisheries laws and we have provided overseas clients with advice and representation on alleged breaches of fisheries laws in South Pacific jurisdictions.

High Seas

New Zealand cannot be isolated from developments in international law as they increasingly impact on the day-to-day activities of the fishing industry. Many large fishing companies now fish on the high seas.

The 1995 UN agreement on Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks has added a new emphasis on international regulation of fishing activity; The Fisheries Act 1996 brings these and other international issues into New Zealand law.

Oceanlaw New Zealand is well placed to assist with advice and representation at this level.

The firm also offers expertise in representing foreign companies and foreign fishers with vessels operating in New Zealand waters and the South Pacific, or in co-operative ventures with New Zealand firms, both here and overseas.


Advocacy and lobbying are as important in meeting clients’ needs as appearing in court to represent them. In addition to having a track record in advocacy before New Zealand courts, we are also highly successful in representing our clients when lobbying various government departments and agencies.

Taking a professional approach in this area means the client gets dynamic and skilled representation when lobbying government departments and agencies instrumental to the development of the fishing industry.
For more information please contact Oceanlaw New Zealand