Whitebaiting, just before sunset, Okuru Estuary, Westland
Image: Philippe Gerbeaux | DOC


Find out about the work we're doing to improve the management of whitebait.

The native fish that we call whitebait are in decline. Adult populations of four of the six species of fish that make up whitebait fishery are threatened or at risk of extinction – giant kōkopu, shortjaw kōkopu, inanga and kōaro.

DOC is responsible for making sure there are healthy populations of whitebait and that whitebait fishing is sustainable. Since 2018 we have gathered public feedback on how to improve whitebait management and stop their decline.

Whitebait consultation 2019/20

We began a consultation in January 2020 on proposals to improve whitebait management after our engagement in 2018 and 2019.

The consultation proposed changes to how we manage whitebait species in New Zealand and the whitebait fishing regulations. We received over 11,000 responses.

We have made recommendations to government to improve whitebait management and these include changes to fishing regulations. They are informed by the 2020 consultation response.

Read a summary of the proposed changes to whitebait management in New Zealand

Engagement 2018/19

DOC’s work to engage New Zealanders on options for whitebait management began in mid-2018.

We asked all New Zealanders to tell us what they thought about whitebait management. Contributions came from over 3,000 people. 2,875 people gave their views via an online survey, while around 400 people came to drop-in sessions.

A Whitebait Working Group was established, reflecting the range of interests that New Zealanders have in whitebait. The group included people with expertise in mātauranga Māori, fisheries and species management, ecology, habitat restoration, commercial and recreational fishing and policy.

Feedback from iwi and Māori was given directly to the Minister of Conservation and the working group.

We captured the views of the working group and the public in a report outlining the issues and options for whitebait management.

The report (New Zealanders' views on whitebait management: Summary of findings from a public engagement process) was considered by the Minister of Conservation. It helped decide our next steps.

Current knowledge and consultation documents

Current knowledge

DOC published a summary of current knowledge about whitebait in June 2018. This is available below:

Conservation, ecology and management of migratory galaxiids and the whitebait fishery.

Report on public feedback 2018: views on whitebait management

We put together a summary of findings from our 2018 public engagement and released a report in April 2019.

The report and supporting information are available below:

Report: New Zealanders' views on whitebait management: Summary of findings from a public engagement process (PDF, 5,479K)

Supporting information

Contact us

If you’d like to get in touch, you can email us: whitebait@doc.govt.nz 

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