Fishing licence fees may change

New Zealand's fishing licence system may be overhauled to give anglers more choice and cheaper licence options.

A proposal for a range of new licences will go before Fish and Game councils around New Zealand in coming months before going to the national council and then the Conservation Minister for final approval in time for the start of this year's fishing season.

The Otago Fish and Game Council will consider the proposal today at its first meeting of the year.

The proposed changes included a loyal senior licence, which at $102.85 was cheaper than an adult whole season licence at $121, and targeted anglers older than 65, who had been fishing for more than five consecutive years.

Other proposed new options were a combined fishing and hunting licence ($180), and a short break licence (three days) costing $48.50 and long break licence (nine days) at $84.70. An adult 24-hour licence was $19.

To cater for those who only fished in one region, a local area licence had also been proposed costing $96.80.

Fish and Game Otago operations manager Ian Hadland, who was project co-ordinator for the development of the new licences, said two rounds of consultation had taken place with licence holders in an effort to develop licence categories that met anglers' needs.

''We have a one-size-fits-all system that doesn't fit all. That's the trouble.''

Feedback had been ''overwhelmingly in favour'' of change to better fit categories with price.

Responses indicated a senior citizen-type licence and a dual licence would be met favourably.

As people had only the option of a one-day licence or a full-season licence, it was hoped the proposed three and nine day options would better meet the requirements of those who mainly fished on holidays.

The economic impact of the changes had also been tested and had shown licence revenue could, if anything, increase slightly, so it would not have a major effect on the organisation, he said.

''It showed people would switch between licences or upgrade.''

The proposed changes had been made possible by the licence system going online, which had reduced the cost of changes that had previously required licence books to be printed.

''It has streamlined the process.''

While change was difficult for some, the introduction of the family licence about 10 years ago had proved how successful it could be, Mr Hadland said.

''It's one of our most popular and successful categories.''

The 12 Fish and Game councils had the opportunity to confirm the licence changes or amend them before they were considered by the national council.


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