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


The 2021 whitebaiting season is about to kick off in the Waikato on 15 August with new regulations in place to help ensure a healthy future for the fishery.

Date:  12 August 2021

The regulations were developed following extensive public engagement and consultation which began in 2018. To help make the fishery more sustainable, several adjustments have been made including changes to fishing methods and gear, season length, and upstream fishing limits.

Waikato District Operations Manager, Tahi Rangiawha says the new regulations will take pressure off the fishery, improve equity between whitebait fishers and increase the consistency of regulations across New Zealand.

“The local approach will include a period of socialisation of the changes allowing plenty of time for whitebaiters to adapt. We will carry out our regular patrols of the Waikato River and other key sites on the west coast with education as the focus for these trips.”

Whitebait face a range of threats and pressures, including habitat degradation, poor water quality, impeded fish passage within river systems as well as fishing pressure. As a result, four of the six species of freshwater fish that are legally classified as whitebait are threatened or at risk.

More evidence about the state of the fishery will be gathered over the next two seasons to continue improving whitebait management over the long term.

“We’ll collect additional data from the Waikato River so we can improve our understanding of where and how much whitebaiting occurs, the effectiveness of new regulations, and the success and satisfaction of whitebaiters,” Tahi Rangiawha says.

The new regulations will be phased in over three years to make it easier for whitebaiters to adjust. The new regulations will not affect customary fishing rights.

This year’s whitebaiting season takes pace from 15 August to 30 November. As part of the new regulations, next year’s season will begin on 1 September and end on 30 October.


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