Whitebait consultation submission period extended

Whitebait are a key part of Kiwi culture but the fishery is currently under threat, says the Government.


Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage has extended the date for people to have their say on proposed changes to improve management of whitebait across New Zealand.

Submissions were due to close on March 2, 2020, but will now remain open until 9am on Monday March 16, 2020.

“I have received feedback from the public and iwi that they need more time to submit on proposals in the ‘Improving Whitebait Management’ discussion document. I want to ensure we hear from as many New Zealanders as possible and have made the decision to extend the consultation period,” says Eugenie.

“Whitebait are a cherished part of Kiwi culture. We want to ensure that whitebait numbers flourish, while maintaining a healthy fishery long-term. It really is important that as many people as possible submit on the proposals I have outlined.

“I want to thank everyone who has engaged on the issue to date – we have received more than 2000 submissions already. I urge those who have not yet sent in their submissions to do so.”

The ‘Improving Whitebait Management’ discussion document sets out proposals to improve whitebait management across New Zealand, based on feedback from the public, iwi and whitebait experts.

The proposals aim to:

  • Standardise the rules for whitebaiting across New Zealand, including the timing of the fishing season, and establishing upstream limits on whitebait fishing to ensure healthy whitebait stocks. Many of these proposed changes are based on the more comprehensive controls on whitebaiting which currently apply on the South Island’s West Coast.
  • Create refuges in some waterways or reaches of waterways, where whitebait fishing is excluded, to provide safe havens and help improve their populations.
  • Increase the equity of whitebait catching opportunities.
  • Phase out the export of whitebait.

The proposals follow Parliament’s passing of the Conservation (Indigenous Freshwater Fish) Amendment Bill in October 2019 and nationwide engagement in 2018 where 90 per cent of survey respondents said changes were needed to make New Zealand’s whitebait fishery sustainable.

In late January through early February, public sessions to discuss the whitebait management consultation were to be held in Kaitaia, Whangarei, Auckland, Tuakau, Otorohanga, New Plymouth, Napier, Whanganui, Masterton, Otaki, Wellington, Nelson, Blenheim, Christchurch, Timaru, Westport, Hokitika, Fox Glacier, Haast, Dunedin and Invercargill.

People can provide feedback on the whitebait management proposals online or by mail.

Head to for more information on the proposals and how to provide feedback.



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