Busy whitebait season comes to end
Archived content: This media release was accurate on the date of publication.
IntroductionAfter a busy whitebait season in the Gisborne Whakatane Area the Department of Conservation reminds whitebaiters the season ends tomorrow 30th November.
Date: 29 November 2010
After a busy whitebait season in the Gisborne Whakatane Area the Department of Conservation (DOC) reminds whitebaiters the season ends tomorrow 30 November.
DOC staff spent over 800 hours on whitebait regulations compliance in rivers in the Bay of Plenty. We presently have 15 people on 25 charges awaiting prosecution with about five of these being repeat offenders which is disappointing says Programme Manager, Biodiversity Assets James Holborow.
“Offending mainly involved the seizure of nets for fishing within 20 metres of floodgates or structures and leaving a net unattended. The fishing off floodgates was the most common offence. Staff also received excellent support from the NZ Police during the season”, says Mr Holborow.
Some whitebait catches were exceptional with 137kg of whitebait caught in one day at the Waioeka River. DOC is concerned about the sustainability of the whitebait species and believes fishermen should take enough for a meal and leave the rest. This is usually not the case with prices of up to $100/kg and no maximum daily catch also increasing the likelihood of illegal fishing.
Good catches were usually due to a rare combination of events involving optimal conditions for spawning and a lot of juvenile fish in the water systems. The fencing of waterways in the Eastern Bay of Plenty has assisted whitebait spawning so that riparian vegetation is available and not heavily grazed.
From patrols in the Gisborne area including Te Arai, Waimata and Uawa there has been good levels of compliance with regulations and interactions with fishers. Catches reported in the Gisborne City area were variable due to significant rainfall events. There were some good catches in the Uawa.
“Next year DOC staff will continue to focus on known hot spots for illegal fishing and a no tolerance approach of no warnings being issued and people being prosecuted,” says Mr Holborow.