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Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage has released a proposal to standardise the rules across New Zealand, including the timing of the season and establishing upstream limits on whitebaiting.
The changes would be more in line with the stricter controls already being applied on the West Coast.
Ms Sage said there are no plans to introduce a licensing system for recreational fishers or a ban the commercial sale of whitebait within New Zealand.
But the changes do recommend phasing out the export of whitebait.
Consultation and public meetings will be held until March 2 and final decisions will be made later this year.