Close up of inanga whitebait
Image: Stephen Moore | Manaaki Whenua - Landcare Research | ©


DOC is highlighting some key things to ensure a safe and happy whitebait season which runs from 1 September to 30 October.

Date:  31 August 2023

DOC Freshwater Species Manager Emily Funnell says it’s important whitebaiters keep themselves safe, particularly at the margins of the sea and rivers. 

“Whitebaiters using waders should wear belts, and should wear lifejackets if around deep or turbulent waters.

“They should also let people know where they are going and when they should be home again,” Emily Funnell says.

The last of new whitebaiting regulations will roll out for the South Island’s West Coast on 1 September, the first day of this year’s whitebaiting season.

The maximum length of whitebaiting gear used on the West Coast will be six metres, bringing it in line with the rest of the country. This change will mainly affect fishing gear used from whitebaiting stands.

The new West Coast regulation will also help to address equity issues. Up until this year, West Coast stand-holders could potentially harvest significant amounts of whitebait using extensive net and screen lengths.

Emily Funnell also urges whitebaiters to help reduce the spread of invasive freshwater pests, particularly gold clam this season.

“No matter where you whitebait, follow Biosecurity New Zealand’s updated Check, Clean, Dry advice, and, if you are fishing in the Waikato, stick to whitebaiting in only one river for the season to reduce the risk of your gear and waders spreading gold clam.”


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