The 2011 whitebait season opens on Monday 15 August for all areas of New Zealand, except the West Coast and the Chatham Islands.
“Whitebait species are particularly vulnerable this year due to earthquake damage to known spawning grounds which may have a harmful effect on fish numbers,” says Department of Conservation (DOC) Ranger Anita Spencer.
“It is particularly important that whitebaiters only take enough fish for their needs to conserve these native species and ensure there will be whitebait in future years.”
Anita asks whitebaiters to ensure that they only fish rivers that have been declared free from contaminants from sewage overflows after the earthquake. At present the waterways that are closed to fishing are all of the Avon and Heathcote rivers, including the estuary.
From Monday, DOC staff and honorary rangers will be patrolling waterways to ensure compliance with the rules and to answer any questions.
Whitebait catch mainly consists of the young of three native fish species, inanga, kōaro and banded kōkopu, with inanga forming about 99% of the Canterbury catch. They spend part of their life in freshwater and part in the sea.
The hours for fishing are 5 am to 8 pm until daylight saving when it goes forward an hour.