Four of the five species of whitebait are endangered. They are threatened with extinction.
Once they were super-abundant. There are stories of filling a 10-gallon drum with whitebait to be used as fertiliser on the garden. A sustainable catch would then have been many times greater than the total flow today.
During the past century uncontrolled catches have brought the number to a tiny fraction of what it had been before people came.
There can be no sustainable catch now. The only sensible action is to ban all whitebait fishing and hope that they can recover over the coming decades. Calls to continue fishing ignore these facts, while making the ridiculous claim of wanting to “heal the estuary” (Chris Turver, Sept 26) by destroying this resource.
Rational argument is replaced by mumbojumbo when Rakauoteora Te Maipi writes of “love” and “a spiritual positive” with calls to pay attention to his “incantation or prayer”.
He talks of education but is careful to remain ignorance of the facts.
So too with Jim Simons who wants to “take a feed when Tangaroa is in a generous mood”.
Call it what you will, the number of whitebait is a tiny fraction of what it once was.
If we care we will protect what is left and allow nature to recover. JOHN ROBINSON