August 17, 2008

Nets Set for Start of Season

By ROOKES, Felicity

WHITEBAITERS will hit the rivers and streams today as the season officially opens in Taranaki -- though some have made an early start.

"We've already had a couple of reports of early fishing on some rivers in Taranaki," Department of Conservation biodiversity ranger Bryan Williams said. "The rules are there to protect the species and most whitebaiters appreciate this."

The regulations are set to allow a percentage of whitebait to migrate up streams to their breeding area.

But despite all the rules trying to preserve the tiny fish, it does not appear to be a promising season.

Mr Williams says due to the recent bouts of heavy rain the whitebait could be struggling.

"I don't know how the season will shape up as we had some very dry weather in February and March and now we are getting lots of rain, probably too much rain," he says.

"With all this rain, fishing in the large rivers should be better downstream than upstream. Whitebait will struggle to get up through flooded rivers."

Fishing gear should not exceed more than a third of the width of the river or stream, or be larger than six metres long. There should also be only one net per person. Illegal equipment or gear illegally set up will be seized and people breaking the regulations could be fined up to $5000, Mr Williams says.

* The Taranaki whitebaiting season runs from today until November 30. A full list of rules and regulations is available from your local Doc office or online at


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