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Member Poll to Determine Industry Support for Recommended 1 May – 30 April for Future Season Dates

On 24 September 2020 WRL hosted an industry leadership workshop to discuss future season dates and determine if a change should be recommended to industry. The workshop was well attended by the WRL Board, Fishing Operations Committee, TACC Committee, the two processors not on the TACC Committee, two representatives from each of the six PFAs and DPIRD representatives.

The workshop was organised following feedback received from Members requesting changes to the annual season as well as feedback received from Members regarding their opposition to the upcoming 6.5 month season from 1 July 2021 to 14 January 2022 as part of the COVID-19 response package for industry. You can read more about industry requesting a change to future season dates here.

Prior to the workshop, Members and attendees were invited to provide feedback regarding future season dates, including season date options and the pros and cons for each of those options. Many PFAs held meetings to discuss these options prior to providing feedback to WRL. The comprehensive feedback received was compiled and provided to the attendees ahead of the workshop, which meant that all attendees were fully informed and able to engage in constructive discussion throughout the workshop as to each of the proposed future season date options. The attendees also reviewed and considered the feedback in detail at the workshop, adding further feedback they thought was relevant to consider and removing elements they did not think were fair statements when considering which future season date would best benefit the whole of industry. You can view the options table resolved by the workshop in reaching its conclusion here.

You can also view the other information considered and discussed by the workshop attendees here including the current season date arrangements, the process prior to and following the workshop for the setting of future season dates, the principles for setting season dates and data provided by DPIRD.

After reviewing and discussing all industry feedback and other materials provided, 92% of the industry leaders (including the four major processors) voted to recommend changing future season dates so they start on 1 May and finish on 30 April each year. You can read the benefits of this option considered by the workshop here.

Having determined a recommended change to future season dates, WRL is now conducting a Member poll to identify the level of industry-wide support for this option. This poll will close at 9 am on Thursday, 8 October 2020.


Click here to start the survey


The WRL Board will consider the results of this poll to determine the level of industry support for this future season date option and determine whether it will propose a change to future season dates to Minister Tinley. The Minister has indicated he will only consider changing future season dates if WRL can recommend a preferred alternative arrangement for future season dates that has demonstrated strong support from industry.

The current arrangements are:

  • This season will finish on 30 June 2021
  • Next season will start on 1 July 2021 and finish on 14 January 2022 (6.5 months)
  • Future seasons will start 15 January and finish 14 January the following year


If there is strong industry support for changing to the recommended 1 May – 30 April for future season dates, the following arrangements will proceed:

  • This season will finish on 30 June 2021
  • Next season will start on 1 July 2021 and finish on 30 April 2022 (10 months)
  • Future seasons will start 1 May and finish 30 April the following year


These are the reasons why the industry leaders recommend changing future season dates:


  • It is a reasonable catch period so offers security in catching quota.
  • There are higher catch rates in April to finish off quota.
  • Smooths peaks and troughs and flattens the catch all year.


  • This would encourage people from all zones to fish the deep-water whites pattern – taking pressure off the bigger residential crays.


  • It moves the start/finish away from the 2 whites periods, which will then allow supply management to deliver better market prices during the whites.
  • Traditionally the market price and demand in May/June is better than July/August period.
  • Full run at whites and CNY with associated market benefits.
  • Moving season away from the peak catch period gives fishers maximum optionality during high catch period to capitalise on high prices – fishers will be free to be opportunistic.
  • Expected to flatten the artificial supply peak in January and therefore creates a true supply and demand balance during the whites/Chinese New Year.
  • The influx of lobsters coming in at the start of the season shouldn’t change the price or market, as the majority of fishers currently fish April-June.
  • Misses the start of NZ quota in April.


  • Moves the licensing away from the Fisheries closure period.
  • Season finishes on the last day of the month, making accounting easier.
  • To assist cash flow the schedule and proportion of licence fee instalment payments can be varied to decrease payments required during winter.


Please contact Paige on 0408 940 368 or if you have any queries.