Whitebait are an important part of Kiwi culture. They are taonga to iwi and fishing for whitebait is an important tradition for many New Zealanders. But changes are needed to conserve whitebait species and ensure the future of whitebait fishing.
Four of the six whitebait species are classified as 'at risk' or 'threatened'. From 2018, we have been working with New Zealanders on how to ensure healthy and restored whitebait populations and provide for a sustainable fishery.
In January 2020 we released a discussion document detailing proposed management changes for whitebait. It proposed:
- a management goal for the six species fished as whitebait
- management outcomes for the whitebait fishery
- amendments to the whitebait fishing regulations
- to phase out export of the whitebait species.
Submissions on these proposals closed on 16 March 2020.
What happening now?
DOC received over 11,000 submitted responses to the consultation. These informed DOC’s final recommendations to the Minister of Conservation. The government will review these after the election.
The regulations for whitebait fishing will not change for the 2020 season.