Whitebait, probably Galaxias maculatus, from Te Oka Stream
Image: Angus McIntosh, University of Canterbury | ©

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


DOC is keen to hear from Lower Clutha whitebaiters this season as part of a project to preserve the long-term health of the whitebait fishery.

Date:  08 August 2022

The Department of Conservation's (DOC) Coastal Otago office has been running the Lower Clutha Whitebait Catch Diary Project since 2003 – the only project of its kind in New Zealand –recording dates, hours fished, and catch, to create daily and seasonal Catch Per Unit Effort (CPUE) data for comparison with previous years.

Participation has slowly increased as whitebaiters have become more aware of the need to safeguard the fishery for future generations.  

Catch records remain confidential and are reported anonymously, while whitebaiters who participate in the project receive a copy of the 2022 End of Season Report. 

DOC Biodiversity Ranger John Richardson says some whitebait seasons are better than others.

“Along with experience and a bit of luck, a good whitebaiting season is a complex combination of environmental variables – including rainfall, water temperature, tide and sea conditions,” says John.

“But if poor whitebaiting seasons became more frequent across the Lower Clutha, identifying this trend quickly would be important.

"Whitebaiters can play a key role by sharing their basic catch records at the end of each season.

"As well as pinpointing the most productive days and weeks for whitebaiting each season, records provide a useful indicator of the amount of whitebait in the Lower Clutha catchment each season. By comparing this information to previous years, we have a basic tool for monitoring the general health of the fishery.  

“The more whitebaiters participating in the project, the more accurate the picture becomes.

"If you net or have a stand, on the Koau, Matau, Puerua River, or any other waterway in the Lower Clutha catchment, sharing your basic catch records could make a significant difference.”

There are two ways to share catch records: 

  1. DOC can post you a Catch Diary (and reply-paid envelope) to complete and return at the end of the season; or
  2. Enter your catch records online via a short, four-question form. 

Email “whitebait catch diary” to catchdiary@doc.govt.nz or text it to +64 27 226 5140, with your preferred option for sharing information and your name (and address if you select the postal option).

Background information 

The Whitebait Catch Diary project is separate from whitebait compliance in Coastal Otago.  

The catch diary project is 100% Lower Clutha (South Otago)-focused. Key towns are Balclutha, Milton, Kaitangata, Owaka and Mosgiel.  

The 2022 whitebait season runs from 1 September to 30 October 2022.


John Richardson

Email: jorichardson@doc.govt.nz
Phone: +64 27 226 5140 

For media enquiries contact:

Email: media@doc.govt.nz 

Back to top