Whitebaiting, just before sunset, Okuru Estuary, Westland

Image: Philippe Gerbeaux | DOC


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 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.

Online survey

Our survey has now officially closed, but if you would like to contribute your views it can still be accessed.

DOC undertakes to collect, use and store information provided on this form according to the principles of the Privacy Act 1993. See Privacy and Security

Drop-in sessions held nationwide

We held drop-in sessions in Nelson, Invercargill, Kaiapoi, Wellington, Pokeno, Napier, Westport, Hokitika, Haast, Fox Glacier, Whangarei and New Plymouth in late 2018.

The sessions were an opportunity to discuss whitebait management options with DOC rangers and members of the Freshwater Team. Comments and feedback were collected. Approximately 400 people across the country attended a session.

Background and current knowledge 

DOC has been asked to prepare an issues and options paper advising the Minister of Conservation what people think can be done to ensure healthy and restored whitebait populations and provide for a sustainable fishery.

We are looking at whitebait management to ensure whitebait populations are healthy, identify what can be done to restore them in areas where they have declined, and what is needed to ensure a sustainable whitebait fishery.

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.

We 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.

Download resources

Contact us

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

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