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Reminder for whitebaiters to enjoy a ‘sleep-in’ this Sunday

27 September 2019

The Department of Conservation (DOC) is reminding fishers they can ‘sleep-in’ on Sunday, when the hours people can legally whitebait change with the start of daylight savings.

Between mid-August to the end of November, Canterbury’s rivers see dedicated fishers set up nets to catch whitebait. From Sunday, people will only be allowed to fish for whitebait between 6 am and 9 pm (instead of 5 am and 8 pm) due to the clocks going forward.

“While it’s an hour later than usual, there’s still plenty of time during the day to fish. Whitebaiters should consider taking advantage of the longer daylight hours and enjoy a ‘sleep-in’,” suggests DOC Mahaanui Operations Manager, Andy Thompson.

Whitebaiters need to ensure they are familiar with whitebaiting regulations, which include only fishing during set times. The consequences for people who breach these rules are fines up to $5000 and to have their fishing gear seized.

Andy Thompson says DOC rangers are regularly patrolling rivers and have already seized fishing gear this season.

“While most fishers play by the rules, the law is in place to protect the fishery for the future, and anyone who breaks it can face consequences,” he says.

Whitebait are juveniles of six species of native fish; giant kōkopu, banded kōkopu, shortjaw kōkopu, inanga, kōaro and common smelt. Four of these species are categorised as either threatened or at risk of extinction. Whitebait that escape the net grow into adults ranging from 10 to 60 centimetres long.

“Look out for our friendly DOC rangers who will be patrolling whitebaiting sites and talking to fishers throughout the season to ensure people are complying with the regulations.

“Voluntary DOC rangers are also doing a great job visiting beaches and educating fishers about the rules. We hope our strong presence in the whitebait community will see a decrease in the number of fishers who ignore the rules.”

Later this year, DOC will consult with the public on improving whitebait management including reviewing the whitebait fishing regulations. This follows public engagement in 2018 and early 2019 on improving whitebait management to restore whitebait populations and provide for a sustainable whitebait fishery. The engagement included a DOC survey, where 90% of respondents said changes were needed to make New Zealand’s whitebait fishery sustainable.

Information on the engagement process can be found on DOC’s website:


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