River cheats build walls to herd the whitebait

LAIRD HARPER
Last updated 05:00 04/09/2014
Whitebait
Glenn Jeffrey

Some of the illegal races built to catch whitebait on the Waiwakaiho River, near Lake Rotomanu.

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A series of makeshift rock walls believed to have been designed to funnel whitebait into waiting nets has authorities crying foul.

New Plymouth photographer Glenn Jeffrey said he spotted about half a dozen of the "baiting races" along a section of the Waiwakaiho River near Lake Rotomanu.

Department of Conservation service manager Gareth Hopkins said the illegal practice happened every year on rivers around the country.

Hopkins said the rules were in place to protect fish stocks as well as give everyone a fair chance of catching the delicacy.

He said whitebait fishing regulations clearly state no-one should "interfere with, alter, or modify the natural bed or banks of any river, stream, estuary or channel".

"If whitebait nets are used in conjunction with human made rock walls, this may result in a breach of various other offences under the regulations, and offenders may be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $5000."

Hopkins said they took compliance seriously and launched regular patrols to ensure people were following the rules.

Anyone who notices rock walls being build is asked to contact DOC directly on 06 7590350 or 0800 362 468.

The whitebaiting season in Taranaki lasts until November 30.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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