DOC says a recent conviction for breaching the Whitebait Regulations 1994 should deter other people from breaking the rules.
The Christchurch District Court last week convicted Alyssha Blackler on two charges of fishing from a raft on the Cam River, at Kaiapoi last August. She was ordered to pay $1000 in fines together with court costs. An order was also made for forfeiture of her whitebait net.
In sentencing Ms Blackler, Judge Keller noted, “there is good money in whitebait fishing and hence the sentence needs to be meaningful to be a deterrence”.
“This is a significant fine for whitebait offending and should serve as warning to the local whitebaiting community that DOC takes compliance with the regulations seriously,” says DOC’s Mahaanui/Christchurch Operations Manager Andy Thompson.
Whitebait are juveniles of five species of native fish: giant kokopu, banded kokopu, shortjaw kokopu, inanga, and koaro. Those that escape the whitebait net grow into adults ranging from 10 to 60 centimetres long.
Four of the five species are categorised as either threatened or at risk due to declining numbers and habitat.
“DOC staff have stepped up their patrols during the whitebait season, which runs from August to November each year, to ensure that people are complying with the regulations,” Mr Thompson says.
“This case makes it clear that fishing from a vessel or raft is completely unacceptable,” he says. “We were alerted to this by a member of the public and we appreciate hearing from whitebaiters who are concerned about the behaviour of others,” he says.
“Fishers are encouraged to only take what they need and to think about the sustainability of the fishery for future generations.”
DOC administers whitebait regulations regarding fishing methods, timing, location and net size to ensure enough young fish get upstream to mature and subsequently create new whitebait for the future.