DOC ranger with whitebaiter who was following all the regulations, Tarawera River mouth
Image: Neil Hutton | DOC

Archived content: This media release was accurate on the date of publication. 


Eastern Bay of Plenty whitebaiters have largely played by the rules this season but there are some who have been using illegal equipment or techniques.

Date:  24 September 2019

DOC have been visiting all the whitebaiting hotspots from Otamarakau to Ōpōtiki to hand out brochures, check nets, and ensure people are following whitebaiting regulations. 

On the whole, patrols have found people to be following the rules and enjoying their time sitting in the spring sun.

Unfortunately, the DOC has also been involved in several compliance issues over the last two months Three set nets which were left unattended in the Whakatāne river have already been confiscated. A number of people have also been found in breach of regulations by whitebaiting within 20 metres of flood gates and using multiple nets. 

In addition to the ongoing patrols, DOC has also received a number of anonymous calls to report illegal fishing – these calls have resulted in several seizures of nets. 

DOC encourages anyone who witnesses illegal whitebaiting practices to report them to DOC by calling 0800 DOC HOT (0800 362 468). Persons offending against these regulations may be fined up to $5,000.

Senior biodiversity ranger Andrew Glaser is a passionate advocate for whitebaiting fairly and within the regulations: “It is important to understand whitebait regulations are in place to protect fishing stock and ensure future generations can continue to enjoy this treasured New Zealand pastime”   

Whitebait are in decline, but you can help.

  • Follow the whitebait fishing regulations.
  • Keep your catch small and only take what you need.
  • Release species that are not whitebait.
  • Keep streams free from pest plants and fish.
  • Report any dams or overhanging culverts to your local DOC or regional council office.
  • Get involved to fence and plant your local streams.
  • Ensure culverts, weirs, dams and floodgates on your land are properly installed and maintained to be fish-friendly.


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