To: Hon Maggie Barrie, Minister of Conservation
Date: 28 February 2017
Addressing concerns about the future for whitebait
At its February meeting, the New Zealand Conservation Authority (NZCA) spent some time discussing issues in relation to whitebait. This was in response to questions raised by several of the conservation boards over the past 12 months. In particular, they are concerned about the possible extinction of four of the five whitebait species, loss of habitat, unregulated sales through social media, and in some cases lack of food safety associated with those sales. Members of the Authority have also been approached directly by the public expressing concerns about the future for whitebait.
We are conscious whitebait fishing is imbued in being a New Zealander and that the evidence base concerning populations and size of catch is patchy. There also appears to be scope for current monitoring of the harvesting of whitebait to be better coordinated.
With this background in mind, and being aware of the diversity and strength of views on whitebait, the Authority has asked the Department, per the resolution attached, to undertake work that will address the information gaps, assess the possibility of banning some methods of fishing that are indiscriminate and prevent the flow of whitebait upstream, explore options to monitor and limit the size of catch, and improve compliance monitoring.
We have requested the Department to report back to us on how these matters at can be progressed at our June meeting. We will keep you appraised of progress and seek your advice on matters that might require adjustment to present regulations.
Dr Warren Parker