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Call for review of the whitebait fishery

An open call to undertake an interdepartmental review of the whitebait fishery and associated issues

Hon Eugenie Sage, Minister of Conservation
Hon David Parker, Minister for the Environment
Hon Stuart Nash, Minister of Fisheries

Dear Ministers
The Canterbury Aoraki Conservation Board wishes to convey our deep concern about the status of whitebait Inanga in New Zealand. As you may already know, Inanga is made up of five species, three of which are in decline and one is threatened. Massey University's Kyleisha Foote and Pierce McNie have stated that without immediate action, one of the five whitebait species could be extinct within three years with all five extinct by 2034.

Our particular concerns include:

The indiscriminate nature of some types of whitebait nets and the by-catch they produce

The length of the whitebait seasons

The existence of three differing sets of whitebait regulations

The lack of recreational quota and/or licencing

The quasi-commercial nature of some recreational white baiters.

In this open letter we wish to call upon the government to undertake an interdepartmental review of the whitebait fishery and associated issues. Given the government’s renewed focus on biodiversity management, it is an opportune time for the Department of Conservation, Ministry for the Environment, and Ministry for Primary Industries, to work together on an integrated approach.

The Canterbury Aoraki Conservation is not alone in its concern and interest in inanga management, with support for this call from a number of Conservation Boards.

The Board looks forward to supporting the government’s efforts, on behalf of all New Zealanders, to ensure the long term sustainability of these important species.

Mick Abbott

Chairperson, Canterbury Aoraki Conservation Board

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