Views on whitebait management sought

Whitebait are a key part of Kiwi culture but the fishery is currently under threat.

With four of New Zealand’s six whitebait species classified as threatened or at risk of extinction, the Department of Conservation is consulting New Zealanders on whitebait management.

People can take part in an online survey and/or attend a drop-in session.

“Whitebait are a key part of Kiwi culture,” says Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage. “They’re taonga to iwi and fishing for whitebait is an important tradition for many New Zealanders.

“We also know that whitebait are in decline. Four of the six species that make up the whitebait fishery are threatened or at risk of extinction, and they face significant pressures – degraded habitats, poor water quality, obstacles to fish passage such as culverts and, in some areas, heavy fishing pressure.

“We must reverse the decline of whitebait and address these pressures if we want healthy whitebait species and a sustainable fishery.”

A Whitebait Working Group has been formed, involving people with expertise in fisheries and species management, ecology, habitat restoration, commercial and recreational fishing, and matauranga Maori to help develop an ‘issues and options’ document.

DOC will include public feedback from the online survey and drop-in sessions, along with the views of the Whitebait Working Group and iwi, in a report outlining the issues and options for the future of whitebait management.

Visit DOC’s website for the whitebait survey: www.doc.govt.nz