Uncertainty over the future of whitebaiting as a result of Government policy is already affecting whitebaiters’ livelihoods, National’s Conservation spokesperson Sarah Dowie says.
“West Coast whitebaiters have invested heavily in their whitebaiting stands, which are essentially a permit to use a particular spot where a structure can be set up.
“They’re worth an average of $70,000 and can fetch up to six figures.
“Since Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage passed her Freshwater Fish Amendment Bill, the stands haven’t been selling and there are fears these assets will plummet in price.
“We’ve been told some whitebaiters have had their stands on the market for months but nobody is interested. It’s unlikely they’ll ever get back what they paid for them and will be left tens of thousands of dollars out of pocket.
“There’s so much uncertainty within the industry. The Minister has the power to ban whitebaiting and the Department of Conservation has reportedly told people to expect changes before the 2020 election.
“The Minister included a clause in the law saying there would be a two-year grace period before a ban on whitebaiting could be implemented, but it appears she’s trying to speed up the process and implement regulations prior to the election instead.
“Considering the Minister’s well documented Green Party ideology towards recreational fishers and hunters, whitebaiters have every right to be concerned about their future.
“National opposed the bill because the Government refused to accept any of our practical amendments to stop a ban on whitebaiting and take a science and evidence-based approach to management instead.
“The Minister needs to be upfront with whitebaiters, who are disillusioned, and rule out a ban on whitebaiting.”