Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | News Video | Crime | Employers | Housing | Immigration | Legal | Local Govt. | Maori | Welfare | Unions | Youth | Search

 

Where have all the whitebait gone?

Where have all the whitebait gone?


Whitebait season opened today and many whitebaiters may be asking themselves, “where have all the whitebait gone?” With predictions that it will be only an average season, it’s a very pertinent question.

Whitebaiting has long been a contentious issue, with feuds over the best positions on the river sometimes lasting through generations of whitebaiters.

These days, with whitebait numbers dwindling further and further, the arguments go beyond who has the best spot. Debate now includes the question of where they have all gone, who's to blame for the declining numbers and if we should still be allowing people to catch whitebait at all.

On one side, there are those who earn money from selling whitebait (up to $150/kg), sometimes helping to support their families in regions where employment is scarce; on the other there are those who view the targeted killing and selling of endangered native animals as, frankly, obscene.

In between these diametrically opposed groups, there are a range of views including those who feel that catching a feed of whitebait is a kiwi tradition, or even a right; there are those who aren't that concerned about whitebait conservation and there is still a huge group of people who don't actually know what whitebait are.

Freshwater ecologist, Amber McEwan, says that few people realise that four of the five whitebait species are more endangered than the little spotted kiwi.

“People are surprised to learn that these tiny, translucent fish are the migrating juveniles of inanga, koaro and three species of kokopu – beautiful native fish that can grow up to 50 cm long!”

Amber says that spreading this knowledge will play an important part in attempts to save these species. The mother of two small children, she has written three children’s books on New Zealand’s native freshwater fish, including a book about the fascinating lives of the whitebait species, and a picture book about the fictional lives of five whitebait friends finding their way to their ideal environments from the sea.

After her first child was born Amber realised that, while there were a number of children’s books about kiwi and tuatara and other New Zealand native animals, there was nothing about our beautiful native fishes. She set about putting that right, and has followed up her first two books on whitebait, with a book on New Zealand’s seven families of native freshwater fish: lamprey, eels, flounder, smelt, galaxiids (which include the whitebait species), bullies and torrentfish.

“Around 70% of all New Zealand native fishes are currently on the threatened species list,” says Amber. “If they are to avoid becoming extinct, they really need our help!”

The threats these fish face are mostly due to human activities: the taking of water for irrigation, pollution, habitat destruction, the introduction of invasive exotic fish, and sedimentation in our rivers, lakes and streams.

But there is much that individuals can do to help save them and Amber believes that it starts with education. The end goal of her books is to educate those who will be responsible for looking after our special freshwater fish in the future – our children.

ends

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Gordon Campbell: On The Erebus Memorial In Parnell

Social media can be a wonderful tool for bringing people together in a common cause. It can also be a seedbed and spreader of mis-information on a community-wide scale. To which category do the protests against the siting of an Erebus memorial (to the 257 New Zealanders who died in that tragedy) in a secluded corner of a Parnell park happen to belong? IMO, it is clearly the latter, and the reasons for thinking so are explained below... More>>

 

National: Proposed Hate Speech Laws A Step Too Far

Reports of the Government’s proposed new hate speech laws go a step too far and risk sacrificing the freedoms New Zealanders enjoy, National’s Justice spokesperson Simon Bridges says. “The reforms are supposedly including protections to every ... More>>

ALSO:

Agriculture: Government To Phase Out Live Exports By Sea

The Government has announced that the export of livestock by sea will cease following a transition period of up to two years, said Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor. “At the heart of our decision is upholding New Zealand’s reputation for high ... More>>

ALSO:

Norman Gemmell: New Zealand’s New Housing Policy Is Really Just A New Tax Package — And It’s A Shambles

Norman Gemmell , Te Herenga Waka — Victoria University of Wellington Economists like to talk about “optimal policy instruments” — essentially, policies that achieve their objectives more effectively or efficiently than the alternatives, and ... More>>

Claire Breen: ACC’s Policy Of Not Covering Birth Injuries Is One More Sign The System Is Overdue For Reform

Claire Breen , University of Waikato Recent media coverage of women not being able to get treatment for birth injuries highlights yet another example of gender bias in healthcare in New Zealand. More>>

Police: Police Accept Findings Of IPCA Report Into Photographs Taken At Checkpoint

Police accept the findings of a report by the Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA) relating to photographs taken at a checkpoint in Northland. On November 16, 2019, Police set up a checkpoint down the road from a fight night event in Ruakaka ... More>>

ALSO:

Health: Drug-Testing Law To Be Made Permanent

Interim legislation that is already proving to keep people safer from drugs will be made permanent, Health Minister Andrew Little says. More>>

 
 
 
 
 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

  • PARLIAMENT
  • POLITICS
  • REGIONAL
 
 

InfoPages News Channels