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 happens next?
We're currently reviewing over 11,000 submissions that we received during the consultation to inform our recommendations to the Minister of Conservation.
Once we've finished our review, we'll provide the submissions to the Minister of Conservation with a summary and recommendations on amendments to regulations. The Minister of Conservation will then consider our recommendations, and discuss them with Parliamentary colleagues.
The decision on regulatory amendments will be made by Cabinet and announced later this year. After that, new regulations would be drafted to incorporate changes.
The regulations for whitebait fishing will not change for the 2020 season.