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


DOC is reminding whitebaiters heading out to rivers soon that whitebaiting is not permitted in national parks.

Date:  02 September 2016

Whitebaiters heading out to rivers soon are reminded that whitebaiting is not permitted in national parks.

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.

The coastal boundary of Fiordland National Park is the mean high water mark: whitebaiting is not permitted on rivers above this point.

DOC’s Southland rangers will be patrolling sites and talking to whitebaiters throughout the season to ensure people are complying with the regulations.

DOC Operations Manager in Fiordland, Greg Lind, said that most people agree whitebait numbers have declined over the years.

“Whitebait are iconic and fascinating and many New Zealanders enjoy whitebait fishing as a recreational activity.”

“Everyone wants their children and grandchildren to be able to fish for whitebait. However, responsible and sustainable whitebaiting is the only way this can happen,” Lind said.

DOC rangers will be out patrolling sites, checking fishers are abiding with National Park regulations. This will also include checks on chainsaw and generator use. “Anyone caught committing an offence under the National Parks Act may be fined up to $100,000 or a term of imprisonment up to two years, or both,” Greg Lind said.

DOC administers whitebait regulations regarding fishing methods, timing, location and net size to ensure enough young fish get upstream to mature and subsequently create new whitebait for the future.

Mr Lind said regulations were put in place to allow fishing but also as a conservation measure to protect the five species whose juveniles contribute to the fishery.

“The fishers who follow the rules are great – but the ones who don’t spoil the fun. Everyone who fishes for whitebait needs to make an effort to check it’s legal on their chosen river – ignorance is no excuse.”

“We urge people to contact their local DOC or Regional Council office if they see suspected illegal whitebaiting,” Greg Lind said.

Pamphlets with the regulations are at DOC offices and sporting shops and DOC’s website: Whitebait information

Background information


Whitebait are juveniles of five species of native fish: giant kokopu, banded kokopu, shortjaw kokopu, inanga, and koaro. They are a variety of native fish species that spend six months at sea and then make their way up rivers and streams. Those that escape the whitebait net grow into adults ranging from 10 to 60 centimetres long.


Under section 60(1)(h) National Park Act it is an offence to carry out whitebait fishing in national parks without authority. Under section 60(4)(a) National Park Act it is an offence for any person to possess a chainsaw in a national park without authority and under bylaw 13 of Fiordland National Park Bylaws no person shall install or operate a portable generator in any part of Fiordland National Park.


Colin Bishop, DOC Ranger, Services (Biodiversity)
Phone: +64 3 211 2456

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