Date: 10 August 2009
New Zealanders can again take up the much-loved Kiwi pastime of whitebaiting from Saturday 15 August when the whitebait fishing season starts around most of New Zealand.
The whitebait fishing season runs from 15 August to 30 November except for on the South Island’s West Coast where the season is from 1 September to 14 November.
Department of Conservation spokesman Gavin Udy said it was timely with the start of the whitebaiting season to remember that steps need to be taken now to sustain the whitebait fishery to ensure good runs in future years.
“Whitebait are the young of native fish and the future of whitebaiting is dependent on having sustainable native fish populations. The whitebait catch can include short jawed and giant kokopu which are threatened species.
“People can help sustain the whitebait fishery by abiding by the Whitebait Fishing Regulations, by not taking more than they need, and by helping to protect whitebait habitat and passage.
“The Whitebait Fishing Regulations are in place to protect the whitebait fishery and they also help everyone to get their fair share.
“The consequence of breaching the regulations can be prosecution and fines. A Richmond man has been ordered to pay in total more than $2800 in fines and court-related costs on two convictions for using whitebait fishing gear exceeding more than one-third of the width of a stream.
“DOC rangers will be patrolling waterways to check people are complying with the regulations but if people see anyone breaking the rules we ask them to let us know by calling the DOC emergency number, 0800 DOCHOT/0800 36 24 68.
“Whitebait need sufficient habitat to live and breed, including wetlands, swamps and bush-covered streams. They also need unimpeded access between the sea and their freshwater habitats.
“Whitebaiters are also reminded to Check, Clean, Dry whitebaiting gear when moving between or up waterways to prevent the spread of didymo algae and other aquatic pests.
“Any aquatic life caught in nets not wanted as part of the whitebait catch should be returned alive to the water. It can include mature or gutty whitebait, bullies, smelt, trout and the young of eels. It is a legal requirement to do this but these species are also an integral part of freshwater ecosystems.”
Gavin Udy, DOC Motueka Biodiversity Programme Manager
Phone +64 3 528 1810
Trish Grant, DOC Nelson/Marlborough Communications Advisor
Phone +64 3 546 3146