Giant kōkopu
Image: DOC

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


DOC is reminding whitebaiters to be aware of regulations as the 2017 season begins next week.

Date:  09 August 2017

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 kōkopu, banded kōkopu, shortjaw kōkopu, inanga and kōaro. Those that escape the whitebait net grow into adults ranging from 10 to 60 centimetres long. They spawn in streamside vegetation.

DOC freshwater scientist Jane Goodman says whitebait are iconic in New Zealand.

“Unfortunately, four of the five species are categorised as either threatened or at  risk, due to loss of habitat", she says. "We need to ensure we protect their habitat and fish them responsibly.

“It’s good to see work being done to protect and restore whitebait habitat, such as planting and fencing off spawning grounds and the restoration of adult habitat.

“You can also help these fish by contacting your local DOC or Regional Council office if you see overhanging culverts or other barriers that stop whitebait migrating."

During the season, whitebaiting is permitted between 5am and 8pm or between 6 am and 9pm when daylight saving starts on September 28.

DOC administers whitebaiting regulations that cover methods of fishing, location of whitebaiting sites, legal fishing times and net size. Illegal whitebaiting carries a maximum fine of $5000 and whitebaiting equipment can be seized.

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

Read about whitebaiting regulations. Pamphlets detailing the regulations are also available at DOC offices and sporting shops.


Jane Goodman, Technical Advisor, Freshwater
Nelson office
Phone: +64 3 546 3144
Mobile: +64 27 205 5803

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