Activists argue fishing ban could save whitebait from extinction

DOC Renwick compliance officer and backcountry ranger Ray Bennett and his dog Tui will be patrolling Marlborough ...
RICKY WILSON/STUFF

DOC Renwick compliance officer and backcountry ranger Ray Bennett and his dog Tui will be patrolling Marlborough waterways as whitebait season kicks off on Tuesday.

Whitebait fritters could be off the menu for good unless depleted populations are allowed to recover, activists warn.

Numbers of New Zealand's best-loved seafood snack have been in steep decline, and activists say whitebaiting season, which starts on Tuesday, should be banned for a year.

Whitebaiters argue the ban would be "bloody pointless" and that critics are citing flawed research.

Council of Outdoor Recreation Association co-chairman Bill Benfield believes the fishery needed time to recover in its own, natural way.

READ MORE:
Whitebaiters ready to battle for best spot
Boundaries set for Marlborough whitebait season
Outdoor group wants ban on commercial whitebaiting
Is it time to ban commercial whitebaiting?

"This can't continue much longer. I think the fishery should be closed, full stop," he said.

Whitebait, fresh out of the water.
SCOTT HAMMOND/STUFF

Whitebait, fresh out of the water.

"It's had it, it's been screwed. It is unsustainable for both recreational and commercial."

Benfield said he understood whitebaiting was a Kiwi tradition, but argued fishers were contributing to the decline and eventual decimation of the fishery.

"We're loving it to death," he said. 

A man checks his net at the Wairau Diversion in Marlborough during whitebait season last year.
STUFF

A man checks his net at the Wairau Diversion in Marlborough during whitebait season last year.

But the Department of Conservation (DOC) isn't certain fishermen are to blame, saying habitat loss is a key factor driving the threat status of whitebait.

Ad Feedback

Marlborough Recreational Fishing Association life-member Tony Orman did not agree that whitebaiting should be completely banned, but said something had to be done to restore population numbers.

There were plenty of whitebait sellers who popped up during the season in Marlborough and some were catching as much as possible to turn a profit, Orman said.

A whitebait pattie is one of the most popular ways to cook the fish.
STUFF

A whitebait pattie is one of the most popular ways to cook the fish.

"They are wrecking the resource," he said.

"It is prostitution of a recreational activity, I believe it should solely be a recreational pursuit.

"Do we wait to see whitebait just go down and down and down? The first step must to be to get rid of the commercialism and where we can, restore the habitat and stop the destruction of habitat."

Whitebaiting at Wairau Diversion on the first day of the season last year.
SCOTT HAMMOND/STUFF

Whitebaiting at Wairau Diversion on the first day of the season last year.

The five main species of whitebait include inanga, koaro, banded kokopu, giant kokopu, and shortjaw kokopu. ​Whitebait catches sometimes included smelt, bullies and juvenile eels.

Based on the population of adults, whitebait was in decline. According to the DOC website, the shortjaw kokopu was "threatened" while three species—inanga, koaro and giant kokopu—were in "decline".

West Coast Whitebaiters Association president Des McEnaney said people calling for a ban relied on hearsay and flawed research.

There were still many unknowns in the science around whitebait and a knee-jerk ban would not achieve anything, McEnaney said.

"It would be bloody pointless. The effect would be so minimal it would be a waste of time," he said.

"A ban would create disharmony across the whitebaiting community for no advantage whatsoever. Fishing is a small part of the bigger picture."

The West Coast had its own rules compared to the rest of the country, with their season set to run from 1 September to 14 November.

DOC Renwick compliance officer and backcountry ranger Ray Bennett had whitebaited in Marlborough rivers for 45 years.

DOC would be out in force to ensure people were following the rules and enjoying the season, he said.

"I'm there to police the law as it stands, all I have to worry about is it being done legally," he said. "I'm not anti-whitebaiting, I'm anti people whitebaiting illegally.

"It's funny how such a small fish can bring out the best and worst in people on the river."

Bennett said the vast majority of whitebaiters followed the rules, such as using one net at a time, staying within 10 metres of their net and making sure it did not exceed more than a third of the water channel's width.

Illegal whitebaiting carried a maximum fine of $5000 and fishing equipment could be seized.

 - Sunday Star Times

Comments

Ad Feedback
special offers
Auckland

Temperatures set to plummet

Cold frosty temperatures produced stunning winter scenes in Southland during similar conditions earlier this winter.

Much of the country will drop below zero overnight - but don't worry, the days will be crisp and sunny.

Anti-abortion club faces ban video

University of Auckland's pro-abortion club are facing disaffiliation from the students association in a referendum being ...

Students to vote to keep or disaffiliate pro-life group from student union.

Road closed, power pole snapped

The power pole was snapped in the crash.

Busy Auckland intersection closed for eight hours after car hits power pole.

Labour's 'golden triangle' rail plan

Labour leader Jacinda Ardern says her party will create a passenger rail service linking Auckland, Hamilton, and ...

Jacinda Ardern reveals $20m plan for commuter rail between Auckland, Hamilton, and Tauranga.

Wellington

They're taking the P

Kapiti Mayor K Gurunathan says there are better ways of raising awareness about methamphetamine abuse than altering ...

Dozens of Kapiti road signs have lost the letter P - and some people are not amused.

TAB robbery arrest

07012016 News Photo: Maarten Holl
file photos - generic police photos - shot in Naenae, Wellington

Police arrest 36-year-old man after two robberies, including one at Petone TAB.

Lights out at Staglands

Staglands, home to this kunekune pig, will have its power cut off for a day on August 24, meaning the park will have to ...

Lines maintenance will see the wildlife reserve close for a day this week.

Stolen avocados sold on Facebook

A spate of avocado thefts down the East Coast have resulted in the stolen fruit appearing on Facebook.

Grand theft avo: Police warn fruit is being pinched from orchards and sold on social media.

Canterbury

Forestry fail: Tree destroys bach

The felled tree trunk pierces into the living room.

It was a miracle no-one was home when a felled tree wrote off a much-loved family bach.

Health cuts possible

Former CDHB acting chairman Mark Solomon has warned the Ministry of Health that unprecedented service cuts will be ...

Canterbury health services could face severe cuts if Govt refuses to approve DHB deficit blowout.

School's project criticised

Year 10 students shared personal information through a photo messaging service, unaware the account was operated and ...

Using fake accounts to teach students about cyber safety "sends the wrong message".

ECan 'heavy-handed'

Most of the 176 properties in the subdivision have been told their land may be contaminated.

Subdivision residents told their land might be contaminated, despite tests indicating it's clear.

Waikato

Rail promise for Hamilton

Labour leader Jacinda Ardern announces her plan to create a commuter railway connection between Auckland, Hamilton and ...

Billions of dollars' worth of roads will not help ease congestion - but rail will, Labour says. 

Paedo priest jailed

Mark Mannix Brown, 74, was jailed when he appeared in the Hamilton District Court on Monday, on four charges of indecent ...

Devastating effect of former Catholic priest's abuse heard as he's again jailed for molesting boys.

Tuheitia reaffirms Māori Party

Waikato Tainui Kīngi Tuheitia Pootatau Te Wherowhero Vll at the 11th annual Koroneihana, celebrating his ascension to ...

Māori King Tuheitia also dismissed Māori TV in an address at Tūrangawaewae​ Marae.

BBQ blast burns men

Two people were left with burns when a barbecue exploded at a Coromandel man's birthday party.

Two men in hospital with burns after spit-roast barbecue caught fire at a birthday party.

Taranaki

Mourie humbled by honour  video

Graham Mourie told the 1200 students that life was going to change a lot in the next few years.

One All Black great Graham Mourie remembers Sir Colin Meads as a character, but also a part of the New Zealand psyche.

NZ First choose Chong

He's been hinting at it for weeks. Now New Plymouth district councillor Murray Chong is officially standing for NZ First ...

Finally it's official. Murray Chong is standing for NZ First in New Plymouth.

Vying for votes

Harete Hipango is the National Party candidate  for Whanganui.

A gathering of South Taranaki voters take their first look at their electorate candidate lineup.

Fire investigation

New Plymouth bar Our Place has been shut following a fire at cafe Istanbul in July.

Inquiries into what ignited a New Plymouth restaurant fire are ongoing, police say.

Manawatu

Rare brain condition crippling video

Elijah North has microcephaly, which means his brain does not grow as well as it should.

But parents of 2-year-old aren't giving up hope and have turned to Australia for treatment.

Hospital's care probed

Discharged from hospital, Beth Cross was rushed back there by her husband, Daniel Cross.

The family of a Foxton woman who died soon after being released from hospital want answers.

Parking powers sought

Chief executive Ross McNeil says the council won't employ parking wardens.

The Rangitikei District Council is seeking the power to fine motorists.

Before and after 

Villagers have described the events that unfolded when NZ SAS troopers visited in 2004.

Calls for apology and punishment over firefight at centre of one of NZ's proudest military episodes.

Nelson

Forestry fail: Bach destroyed

The felled tree trunk pierces into the living room.

Miracle no-one home as felled tree writes off Nelson family's much-loved bach.

Sanctuary 'sabotage'

A section of the Brook Waimarama Sanctuary fence that was cut out over the weekend ahead of a poison drop.

Holes were cut in a Nelson bird sanctuary fence, locks glued and trees felled ahead of poison drop.

Fiery end to test drive

Emergency services respond to a vehicle fire on Princes Drive in Britannia Heights, Nelson.

A car for sale in Nelson probably won't be bought after it burst into flames during a test drive.

Transport transformed

Press Drive August 9 Briefs

Driverless cars could radically change Nelson in the not-so-distant-future, says IT expert.

Marlborough

Log spears family bach

The felled tree trunk pierces into the living room.

Family demands answers after felled tree destroys Marlborough Sounds bach.

Back in the race

Marlborough Racing Club president Eric Bowers has previously opposed the sale of Waterlea Racecourse land. (File photo)

Hold your horses! All bets back on after ministry U-turn on campus site.

Unfair to 'single out' jet skis

Seamonkeez Jetski Hire owner Mike Stewart supports registration but says it is unfair to single out jet skis.

It's not just Ferraris and Lamborghinis that have to be registered on the road, so why single out jet skis on the water?

Blackwell does it again

Stephen Blackwell steams towards victory in the 2017 Woodbourne Half Marathon.

Methven athlete Stephen Blackwell claimed back-to-back Woodbourne half marathon titles on Sunday.

South Canterbury

Mobility tricycle for school

Celebrating the gift of a mobility tricycle to Highfield School pupils on Monday are, clockwise from left, Henry ...

Geraldine Lions Club gifts mobility tricycle to pupils of Highfield School.

Twizel man missing

Police are looking for Twizel man David Fountain, who was last seen in the early hours of Sunday morning.

Police looking for Twizel man last seen out with friends in the early hours of Sunday.

Food processing course launched

The new food processing course would begin at Ara Institute of Canterbury next year.

New qualification to prepare students for life in the food processing sector launched.

Daffodils blooming gorgeous

South Canterbury Vintage Car Club members Grant Mitchell and Marion Foster help deliver some of the more than 32, 0000 ...

More than 32,000 daffodils have been delivered in style around the Timaru District.

Otago

More pooches, less poo in QT

Another 183 dogs have been registered in the Queenstown district this financial year, but there's been fewer fouling ...

The Queenstown district now has 4485 dogs, but there's been fewer poo complaints and attacks.

Southland powerlifter breaks NZ record

Southland's Andy Meek won the masters two category 66kg class at the NZ Powerlifting Championships in Dunedin.

Southland powerlifter Andy Meek broke a national record at the 2017 National Classic Powerlifting Championships recently.

Qtown goes nuts on nuts video

Frank Goes Nuts worker Dan Lythgoe, 22, enjoys selling caramelized nuts on Queenstown streets.

Queenstown is going nuts about new caramelised nuts business in town.

Dunedin's 'Minority Report'

Police arrested a burglar before the crime was reported in Dunedin, much like the 2002 Hollywood movie 'Minority ...

Police have solved a crime before it was even reported. Welcome to Dunedin's Minority Report.

Southland

Are you in?

Celebrate being a Southlander by taking part in Purple Work Shirt Day on Thursday, August 24.

The Southland Times and Rugby Southland are coming together this week to hold a purple work shirt day.  

South's top cop defends officers

Southern district commander Superintendent Paul Basham says "some things can go wrong sometimes".

Alleged murder, stalking and sexting cases involving police may harm reputation of hard-working officers, top cop says.

Police dog back at work

The scene on Dee St, Invercargill, where a car hit a police officer and dog.

A police dog pulled from under a car after a police pursuit came to an end is back at work.

A win that got away

Southland Stags midfielder Matthew Johnson scores a try in his debut game against Hawke's Bay in Napier on Saturday.

"It was just a couple of errors in the second half and Hawke's Bay punished us."

Ad Feedback