Archived content: This media release was accurate on the date of publication. 


DOC is reminding whitebaiters to be aware of whitebait regulations as the 2016 season begins today.

Date:  15 August 2016

East Coast Operations Manager John Lucas says DOC takes the issue of illegal whitebaiting seriously and it’s very disappointing to find people already flaunting the regulations.  

“Staff have seized three whitebait nets from people who were fishing before the season has started. But, we are grateful to the public for bringing them to our attention”, says Mr Lucas. 

The whitebaiting season runs from August 15 until November 30 everywhere except the West Coast of the South Island, where it runs from September 1 to November 14.  

Whitebait are juveniles of five species of native fish: giant kokopu, banded kokopu, shortjaw kokopu, inanga, and koaro. Those that escape the whitebait net grow into adults ranging from 10 to 60 centimetres long. 

Mr Lucas says whitebait are iconic in New Zealand.

“Unfortunately four of the five species are categorised as either threatened or at risk due to declining numbers and habitat. Fishers are encouraged to only take what they need and to think about the sustainability of the fishery for future generations.”  

“It’s good to see more conservation measures such as planting and fencing off spawning grounds and adult habitat.”  

“We urge people to contact their local DOC or council office if they see overhanging culverts or other barriers that stop whitebait migrating", says Mr Lucas. 

Whitebaiting is permitted between 5 am and 8 pm or between 6 am and 9 pm when daylight saving starts on September 28. 

DOC will be patrolling whitebaiting sites and talking to whitebaiters throughout the season to ensure people are complying with the regulations. 

DOC administers regulations that cover fishing methods, location, legal fishing times and net size. Illegal whitebaiting carries a maximum fine of $5,000 and whitebaiting equipment can be seized. 

Pamphlets with the regulations are at DOC offices and sporting shops and this website.


Jamie Quirk, DOC Ranger, Biodiversity, Gisborne
Phone: +64 6 869 0460
Mobile: +64 27 432 4920 

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