Whitebaiting, just before sunset, Okuru Estuary, Westland

Image: Philippe Gerbeaux | DOC

Introduction

Find out about the work we're doing to improve the management of whitebait.

DOC is responsible for making sure there are healthy populations of whitebait in our rivers and the whitebait fishery is sustainable. Whitebaiters have told us their catches are smaller than they used to be in some places. Four of the six whitebait species are classified as At Risk or Threatened.

Public engagement in 2018

Our first step towards improving whitebait management was to ask all New Zealanders to tell us what they thought. A working group representing people with expertise in mātauranga Māori, fisheries and species management, ecology, habitat restoration, commercial and recreational fishing and policy also met.

The views of the working group and the public have been included in a report outlining the issues and options for management. This report (New Zealanders' views on whitebait management: Summary of findings from a public engagement process) was considered by the Minister of Conservation to decide what will happen next. It is available to download below.

Public consultation in 2019

Some of the options that were identified in the engagement process can be implemented by DOC as part of its ongoing work. However, regulatory review is needed to implement changes to the regulations around whitebait fishing. After considering the feedback DOC received from New Zealanders on whitebait, the Minister of Conservation decided to progress to public consultation on whitebait management. The scope of this consultation will include reviewing the whitebait fishing regulations.

Later this year DOC will publish a consultation document containing proposals to improve whitebait management. This will include proposed changes to the whitebait fishing regulations. We will seek written submissions on the proposals and hold open sessions around New Zealand to discuss the proposals and answer questions. More information about the consultation process will be made available on this page.  

Report: New Zealanders' views on whitebait management

Summary of findings from a public engagement process, April 2019.

The report and supporting information are available below:

Report: New Zealanders' views on whitebait management: Summary of findings from a public engagement process (PDF, 5,479K)

Supporting information

Background and current knowledge

Whitebait are taonga for iwi and highly prized as a delicacy by many New Zealanders. While whitebait are sold commercially, the fishery is managed as a recreational one by DOC. Whitebait are not in the quota management system.

Whitebait face a range of threats and pressures, including habitat degradation, poor water quality, impeded fish passage within river systems and fishing. As a result, four of the six species of freshwater fish are legally classified as whitebait are threatened or at risk.

DOC published a summary of current knowledge about whitebait in June 2018. To find out more read Conservation, ecology and management of migratory galaxiids and the whitebait fishery.

DOC is responsible for making sure there are healthy populations of whitebait in our rivers and the whitebait fishery is sustainable. Whitebaiters tell us their catches are smaller than they used to be. Four of the six whitebait species are classified as At Risk or Threatened. What should we do?

The first step was to ask all New Zealanders to tell us what they think about whitebait management.

A working group representing people with expertise in mātauranga Māori, fisheries and species management, ecology, habitat restoration, commercial and recreational fishing and policy has also met.

The views of the working group and the public are being included in a report outlining the issues and options for management, scheduled for completion early this year. This report will be considered by the Minister of Conservation to decide what happens next. This process isn't a consultation and no decisions are being made at this stage.

FAQs about whitebait management.

Contact us

If you’d like to get in touch, you can email us: whitebait@doc.govt.nz 

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