Ho-hum season ends

The Timaru Herald - - Front Page - Matthew Lit­tle­wood

South Can­ter­bury white­baiters have cited a rel­a­tive lack of rain as the rea­son be­hind what they say was a slow season.

The season, which lo­cally runs from Au­gust 15 to Novem­ber 30, could be the last un­der present reg­u­la­tions, as the Depart­ment of Con­ser­va­tion hopes to be­gin consultati­on soon on pro­posed so­lu­tions for en­sur­ing the sus­tain­abil­ity of the white­bait fish­ery.

While sev­eral white­baiters who spoke to The Ti­maru Her­ald said the num­bers were not as good as some years, Eve Aku­rangi has re­ported a good season, catch­ing up to 100 pound (about 45kg).

‘‘A lot of white­baiters didn’t do that well at Smith­field this year, but I was quite lucky,’’ Aku­rangi said.

‘‘I’m a grand­mother so I don’t catch it for my­self, I tend to give them all away. I like to share it with oth­ers.’’

Asked what her se­cret was, Aku­rangi said it was down to pa­tience.

‘‘I’m out there ev­ery day over the three-month season. Ev­ery day de­pends on the weather, but I treat it as a full­time sport,’’ Aku­rangi said.

Neville Wat­son, of Ti­maru, said a lack of rain meant there weren’t the large hauls at Smith­field that oc­curred in some sea­sons.

‘‘White­bait fol­low a big fresh and there just weren’t enough of those this year.

‘‘You could wait all day at Smith­field and not catch much.’’

Wat­son said there were bet­ter hauls at the Wai­hao Box, par­tic­u­larly once the river mouth opened, but at tra­di­tional spots at the Opihi and Orari river mouths, ‘‘you would be lucky if you got a de­cent catch over a week’’.

Vet­eran white­baiter Bill Begg said he missed out on the first few weeks of the season but said there were very few catches at the Orari and Opihi.

‘‘The Orari just didn’t seem to have the catches that most sea­sons did.’’

DOC Geral­dine op­er­a­tions man­ager Dun­can Too­good said no fines had been is­sued to white­baiters for us­ing il­le­gal equip­ment, but on three oc­ca­sions, DOC rangers came across unat­tended white­bait­ing equip­ment and seized it.

White­bait­ing is com­ing un­der the mi­cro­scope, as a DOC report on freshwater fish listed four of the six white­bait species cat­e­gorised as ei­ther threat­ened or at risk of ex­tinc­tion.

This fol­lows pub­lic en­gage­ment in 2018 and early 2019 on im­prov­ing the white­bait man­age­ment.

The en­gage­ment in­cluded a DOC sur­vey, where 90 per cent of re­spon­dents said changes were needed to make New Zealand’s white­bait fish­ery sus­tain­able.


Eve Aku­rangi en­joys the last day of the white­bait­ing season at Smith­field beach on Satur­day. She caught about 100 pound (45 kilo­grams) for the season.

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