Whitebaiters beware: There will be more surveillance of
popular whitebaiting spots this season.
The season opens today and Department of Conservation rangers
will be focusing on whitebaiters flouting the no fishing at
night rule - fishing is allowed only between 5am and 8pm (or
6am and 9pm under daylight saving).
''When we hear about people flouting the rules, such as
fishing at night, using oversized and unmanned nets and using
more than one net, this is stealing the whitebait fishery
from future generations,'' Doc senior ranger Pete Ravenscroft
Doc would be targeting popular areas such as the lower Clutha
and Taieri Rivers, as there were anecdotal reports of illegal
fishing happening there.
Last season, some unmanned nets were seized but no-one was
fined. Fishermen could be fined up to $500 for flouting the
regulations, he said.
There was also concern because sports shops were reporting an
increase in sales of whitebait nets, ''indicating increased
pressure on the whitebait fishery''.
From experience, it appeared every third season was a good
one, but this year was expected to be only average.
He said the lower Clutha River produced the most whitebait in
Otago, but Dunedin people liked to whitebait in the Taieri,
Waikouaiti, Kakanui and Shag Rivers.
He hoped whitebaiters would keep a diary of their catches and
pass the information on to Doc so it could establish better
data on whitebait numbers and whether enhancement work was
A huge effort had been put into enhancing and managing
whitebait spawning sites, he said.
About 80km of river banks throughout Otago were now protected
The whitebait season runs until November 30.