The Department of Conservation (DOC) is reminding the public to be aware of the whitebait regulations with the commencement of the 2014 season.
The whitebaiting season runs from 15 August until 30 November everywhere except the West Coast of the South Island which runs from the 1 September to 14 November.
DOC Freshwater Ranger, Matt Brady says the regulations were put in place to allow fishing but also to act as a conservation measure to protect the 5 species whose juveniles contribute to the fishery.
“The whitebait species are iconic and fascinating. Many New Zealanders enjoy whitebait fishing as a recreational activity. However, most people agree that whitebait numbers have declined over the years.”
“It is encouraging, then, to see an increased interest and willingness to fence and plant spawning and adult whitebait habitat. In Hawke’s Bay a considerable length of river has been fenced off but there is always room for more protection. Whitebait fishers and others can also help by calling their local DOC or Regional Council office if they see overhanging culverts that stop whitebait migrating,” he says.
DOC staff will be out patrolling fishing sites and talking to fishers to check they are abiding with the Whitebait Regulations. The public are reminded that fishing is permitted between 5:00 am and 8:00 pm or between 6:00 am and 9:00 pm when daylight saving comes into effect.
“Illegal fishers can be fined up to $5,000 for certain offences so the public are urged to make themselves aware of what is permitted under the regulations,” Matt Brady says.
DOC administers regulations regarding fishing methods, timing, location and net size to ensure that enough young fish get upstream to mature and subsequently create new whitebait for the future.
Pamphlets outlining information on the regulations can be obtained from DOC offices and sports shops.