The native fish that we call whitebait are in decline. Adult populations of four of the six species of fish that make up whitebait fishery are threatened or at risk of extinction – giant kōkopu, shortjaw kōkopu, inanga and kōaro.
DOC is responsible for making sure there are healthy populations of whitebait and that whitebait fishing is sustainable. Since 2018 we have gathered public feedback on how to improve whitebait management and stop their decline.
The regulations for whitebait fishing will not change for the 2020 season.
Whitebait consultation 2019/20
We began a consultation in January 2020 on proposals to improve whitebait management after our engagement in 2018 and 2019.
The consultation proposed changes to how we manage whitebait species in New Zealand and the whitebait fishing regulations. We received over 11,000 responses.
We’ve made recommendations to government to improve whitebait management and these include changes to fishing regulations. They are informed by the 2020 consultation response.
The government will review our recommendations after the election. The regulations will not change for the 2020 season.
DOC’s work to engage New Zealanders on options for whitebait management began in mid-2018.
We asked all New Zealanders to tell us what they thought about whitebait management. Contributions came from over 3,000 people. 2,875 people gave their views via an online survey, while around 400 people came to drop-in sessions.
A Whitebait Working Group was established, reflecting the range of interests that New Zealanders have in whitebait. The group included people with expertise in mātauranga Māori, fisheries and species management, ecology, habitat restoration, commercial and recreational fishing and policy.
Feedback from iwi and Māori was given directly to the Minister of Conservation and the working group.
We captured the views of the working group and the public in a report outlining the issues and options for whitebait management.
The report (New Zealanders' views on whitebait management: Summary of findings from a public engagement process) was considered by the Minister of Conservation. It helped decide our next steps.
Current knowledge and consultation documents
DOC published a summary of current knowledge about whitebait in June 2018. This is available below:
Report on public feedback 2018: views on whitebait management
We put together a summary of findings from our 2018 public engagement and released a report in April 2019.
The report and supporting information are available below:
- Record of the DOC–Maori subject matter expert workshop, 31 July 2018 (PDF, 673K)
- Terms of reference for the Whitebait Working Group (PDF, 212K)
- Record of the first meeting of the Whitebait Working Group, 20–21 September 2018 (PDF, 577K)
- Record of the second meeting of the Whitebait Working Group, 25–26 October 2018 (PDF, 783K)
- Responses to the tick-box questions included in the survey (responses received after the official end date of 7 January 2019 are included) (PDF, 156K)
- Free-text responses to the online survey used in this engagement process (Excel, 286K)
- Notes taken by DOC staff at 12 drop-in sessions held during this engagement process (PDF, 254K)
- Numbers of participants attending the 12 drop-in sessions (PDF, 63K)
- Media activity identified by DOC during this engagement process (PDF, 306K)
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