The changes include where you can fish, how close you can be to other whitebaiters upstream and downstream of you, how wide your gear can be, and how much of the river or stream width can be fished at the same time.
DOC Marine and Coastal Biodiversity Ranger Eriora Park says, to help whitebaiters understand the new regulations, DOC is running information evenings across the Eastern Bay of Plenty. These community hui will be held in Matatā, Whakatāne and Ōpōtiki.
“Te Papa Atawhai are committed to supporting tangata whenua to preserve this taonga species for future generations, so tamariki and mokopuna can enjoy and appreciate it as current and past generations have done before. He taonga te inanga, heoi kei te pari o te rua o tatou taonga nei – this precious resource of ours is in trouble.”
Treaty Implementation Ranger Brad Bluett says these translucent juvenile fish run up our rivers from estuaries and river mouths seeking out a place to grow into adults.
“Countless numbers of them seem to go past our nets each year and harvesting a portion of them through whitebaiting is a fun and fruitful activity here in the Bay of Plenty.
“Discussions with Eastern Bay of Plenty iwi customary fisheries forum have resulted in collaborative efforts this year to conserve this resource by encouraging whitebaiters to just take enough for a kai.
“Better whitebait management is needed to ensure that we can continue to fish now and in the future. Four of the six whitebait species are in trouble, either classed as a threatened species or declining,” Mr Bluett says.
Research shows lots of things have contributed to the decline in numbers of these fish, not just whitebaiting.
Dams and other obstacles in streams which the whitebait can’t get past, fewer plants along stream and river edges, and increased pollution in rivers have all had an impact on fish numbers.
Many local organisations and landowners have been working to create or enhance habitat. Mieke Kapa, Senior Projects Officer with Bay of Plenty Regional Council (BOPRC) Toi Moana, says the council works with landowners and other partners to enhance whitebait spawning sites along the edges of rivers.
“Three publicly accessible sites are being created with the lower area of the Tarawera River, as well as sites on Thornton Hall Road (Ōkorero) and Ferry Road, being great examples of excellent habitat creation and enhancement projects led by BOPRC.”
Mr Bluett says in the Eastern Bay of Plenty, DOC is advocating for improvement and protection of whitebait habitat, ensuring compliance with the new whitebait fishing regulations and working with tangata whenua to support kaitiakitanga practices.
“Over time, and with further regulation changes phasing in over the next two seasons, we would hope whitebaiters see improvements in the health of the fishery. In the meantime, get up to speed with the rule changes because it’s a big deal.”
DOC is offering to help explain the changes, and information is available online, including YouTube clips.
DOC Rangers will be on the river this year giving out information brochures and running info days on the season opening day.
“However, the best way to get the information you need for the upcoming season, before you suss your spot or buy new equipment, may be to go along to one of our information evenings,” Mr Bluett says.
Tuesday, 3 August 2021
Matatā Rugby Club
12 Division Street
Wednesday, 4 August 2021
Upstairs at Eastbay REAP
21 Pyne Street
Thursday, 5 August 2021
Memorial Park Pavilion
20 Albert Street