Wet weather affects start to the Whitebait Season
Archived content: This media release was accurate on the date of publication.
IntroductionDue to heavy rain and river conditions the whitebait season has got off to a slow start. However, DOC staff still seized five nets from whitebaiters fishing in rivers in the Gisborne Whakatane Area.
Date: 27 August 2010
Due to heavy rain and river conditions the whitebait season has got off to a slow start. However, Department of Conservation (DOC) staff still seized five nets from whitebaiters fishing in rivers in the Gisborne Whakatane Area. The seizures of nets were mainly for fishing within 20 metres of floodgates or structures with a number of prosecutions pending.
Ranger Biodiversity Assets, Jamie Quirk says there have been a few whitebaiters in Gisborne, Uawa and Te Araroa areas compared to large numbers fishing the Whakatane, Rangitaiki and Tarawera rivers. Staff have been patrolling rivers, speaking to whitebaiters, the vast majority are behaving themselves while a small number ignore the Whitebait Fishing Regulations.
“The majority of the offences so far have occurred next to floodgates or structures that the regulations clearly state is illegal to fish within 20 metres of them. These areas are all signposted and DOC staff will be continuing to focus on these areas. The aim of staff being out there is to ensure that the whitebait fishery is sustainable and will be available for future generations of whitebaiters to enjoy,” says Mr Quirk.
Mr Quirk also reminds whitebaiters to be mindful of cleaning nets and other gear between waterways to prevent spreading didymo (Didymosphenia geminata) and other aquatic pests during this year’s whitebait season. Didymo has not yet been found in North Island rivers and should be treated as if they are infected with didymo as it is difficult to detect when not in bloom.
Other pest species (such as pest fish and aquatic weeds) are present in some North Island waterways and can also have negative impacts on whitebait. It is therefore crucial that all freshwater users clean their gear between waterways to protect freshwater biodiversity.
Whitebait are the young of native fish such as giant kokopu, shortjaw kokopu, banded kokopu, koaro and inanga, collectively known as galaxiids. They are a variety of native fish species that spend six months at sea and then make their way up rivers and streams.
The whitebaiting season lasts until 30th November for areas other than the West Coast of the South Island. Fishing is permitted only between 5 a.m. and 8 p.m. or between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m. when daylight saving comes into effect. Remember to observe the regulations and help keep this fishery sustainable. The regulations provide for fines of up to $5,000, so fishers should be aware of what is permitted.
Pamphlets and information on whitebait regulations can be obtained from DOC offices, sports shops and visitor centres or on the DOC website.