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Minister encourages compliance as new whitebait season open

Hon Dr Nick Smith

Minister of Conservation

15 August 2013       Media Statement

Minister encourages compliance as new whitebait season opens   

Conservation Minister Dr Nick Smith was up at the crack of dawn this morning to join in the opening of the 2013 whitebaiting season at Waimea Inlet near Nelson and to encourage compliance with the whitebait regulations.

“I want people to get out and enjoy this traditional recreational past-time but I also want whitebaiters to respect the rules to ensure a sustainable fishery for future years. I am not expecting a particularly good catch this season. Anecdotal evidence suggests that in drought years, particularly when autumn is dry like this year, whitebait eggs are more likely to dry out before they hatch meaning catches are less,” Dr Smith says.

The whitebait season runs from 15 August until 30 November and is allowed from 5am until 8pm, changing to 6am to 9pm when daylight savings comes in. This applies to all areas of New Zealand except the West Coast which has a shorter season from 1 September until 14 November. 

“DOC prosecutes more people each year for whitebaiting offences than any other conservation offence. This costs taxpayers and offenders when we would much rather people observe the rules. We need to get the message out about those rules and encourage compliance.

“DOC staff will be patrolling fishing sites to check whitebaiters are abiding by the whitebait fishing regulations such as only using one net at a time, staying within 10 metres of the net, and the net not exceeding more than one third of the water channel width. The regulations are backed up by fines of up to $5,000. DOC will be taking a firm line on enforcement to protect the fishery for future seasons and generations,” he says.

“I also urge whitebaiters to ensure they clean their nets and other gear between waterways to prevent the spread of didymo and other aquatic pests and weeds. This should be done regardless of where people are whitebaiting because it can take several years before we detect infestations like didymo.”

Information regarding the whitebaiting season and regulations can be found at www.doc.govt.nz

ENDS

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