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Author Topic: “WHITEBAIT”  (Read 39064 times)
« on: April 03, 2009, 04:19:19 pm »

“Whitebait Fritters”

“Whitebait Fritter with Fish ‘n’ Chips”


Whitebait Fritters

“Whitebait Fritters”


  • 250g whitebait
  • 2 eggs
  • butter


  • Put whitebait in a bowl and add the 2 eggs.
  • Using a fork, whip whitebait & egg mixture vigorously for approximately 15 seconds or until slightly frothy.
  • Add butter to pan, ensuring pan is nice & hot, and add small amounts of mixture to pan.
  • Cook for 45 seconds to 1 minute, or a little longer if you like your fritters browned.

Enjoy with freshly ground pepper and a slice of lemon!

The current New Zealand Whitebait Fishing Regulations can be located by going to the Department Of Conservation website (www.doc.govt.nz) and entering the keyword Whitebait in the Search box on the Homepage. Note that there are one set of regulations for the West Coast of the South Island and another set of regulations apply to the Rest of New Zealand.

Whitebait Stand    Whitebait Stand
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« Reply #1 on: April 03, 2009, 04:22:39 pm »

Whitebait Recipes

“Whitebait On The Riverbank”    Whitebait Patties

Whitebait Patties    Whitebait Patties


On The Riverbank

A yummy feed you can enjoy while continuing to fish for more whitebait ...
(wait for the Whitebait Season to begin though, or you'll be in “deep-shit”)

  • Break two eggs into 250 g of whitebait.
  • Add ½ tsp Baking Powder if desired.
  • Melt butter in frying pan until just golden.
  • Fry patties, turning once white/golden.

Eat between two pieces of bread with salt and pepper, lemon juice or mint sauce.


Dinner Table Patties

A basic whitebait patties recipe ...

  • Separate two eggs and set aside whites.
  • Beat eggwhites until stiff.
  • Add dessertspoonful of selfraising flour, pinch of salt and egg yolks.
  • Fold together.
  • Add 250gms whitebait and fold in.
  • Melt butter in frying pan until just golden.
  • Fry patties, turning once golden.

Enjoy with lemon juice, mint sauce, salt and pepper — lovely when cold.

• Remember Aunty Betty’s tip and clip the edges with a pair of scissors if you want them perfect!


Chive and Lemon Whitebait Fritters


  • ½ cup flour
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup chopped chives
  • ½ cup milk
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp grated lemon rind
  • 250 g whitebait
  • Salt and pepper
  • 25g butter


  • Mix together flour and baking powder in a bowl.
  • Make a well in the centre.
  • Beat egg and chives slowly into flour mix.
  • Add milk and mix to a smooth batter.
  • Add lemon juice, lemon rind, whitebait, salt and pepper.
  • Mix together gently.
  • Heat a frying pan.
  • Add butter and fry ¼ cup of mixture at a time, turning to brown both sides.
  • Place on kitchen paper to drain.

Makes five fritters.


Alison Holst’s Saute’ed Whitebait


  • Heat a fairly heavy pan.
  • For each serving add 1tbsp of butter and 1-2 chopped garlic cloves.
  • You need a minimum of ½ cup of whitebait per serving.
  • Cook on low heat for 3-4 minutes.
  • Chop 2-3 tbsp of parsley and have it ready.
  • Spread the whitebait on a clean, dry teatowel.
  • Remove any foreign matter.
  • Sprinkle dry whitebait with flour, lifting the sides of the teatowel to coat the fish evenly.
  • Raise the heat of the garlic butter and add the coated whitebait (without adding any of the loose flour) as soon as the butter turns straw coloured.
  • Toss, using a fish slice, until the fish turns milky white in just a few seconds.
  • Sprinkle with parsley and with freshly ground black pepper.
  • Tip onto a warmed plate and squeeze a little lemon juice over them.

Eat immediately.


Alison Holst’s Whitebait Omelet

Proceed as above, using a small pan....

  • As soon as the whitebait turn milky, pour over them an egg which has been beaten with a pinch of salt and a tablespoon of water.
  • Shake pan to spread both whitebait and egg.
  • Lift edges to let uncooked egg run underneath.
  • Fold omelet and serve immediately.

Note: Allow at least ¼ cup of whitebait per serving.


Whitebait with Taglialini

Sauce Ingredients:

  • 100gms butter
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1½ cups Chardonnay
  • 300ml cream
  • Freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1Tbsp Green peppercorns

Sauce Method:

  • Sauté shallots in butter.
  • Add garlic and wine and reduce to half by boiling.
  • Add cream and peppercorns and reduce again.
  • Add salt and nutmeg.
  • Keep warm.

Whitebait Ingredients:

  • 100gms whitebait per person
  • 75gms fresh taglialini per person
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • Chopped parsley or chervil

Whitebait Method:

  • Cook pasta and drain.
  • Cook whitebait in the hot sauce 1 minute.
  • Twirl pasta onto plates, pile whitebait on top, spoon on sauce and top with Parmesan and parsley.



Whitebait Roll


  • 1 cup whitebait
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup cold mashed potatoes
  • 2oz butter
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 egg
  • 1tsp Baking Powder
  • Salt and pepper


  • Mix flour, baking powder and potatoes.
  • Add melted butter and beaten egg.
  • Roll out and spread evenly with whitebait, onion, pepper and salt.
  • Roll up.
  • Bake in pie dish for ½ hour @ 180°C/350°F.

Simply delicious!


Whitebait Souffle


  • 1 cup milk
  • 1Tbsp butter
  • 1 slice stale bread
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • Pepper and salt
  • 250 gms whitebait


  • Warm milk and butter until melted.
  • Pour over bread and let soak in.
  • Beat bread to a pulp.
  • Add egg yolks, pepper and salt.
  • Gently add whitebait.
  • Fold in stiffly beaten egg whites.
  • Pour into battered casserole dish and bake 20 mins @ 200°C/400°F.



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« Reply #2 on: April 03, 2009, 04:24:24 pm »

A trip on the river

SOUTHLANDER - The Southland Times | Saturday, 29 July 2006

They followed the ancient urge to go up the river and, in this case, take with them a solid piece of Southland culture, a new whitebaiting hut, writes Gerry Forde in this week's Southlander.

It was man's work but being in the vicinity of Tokanui the bros promised to be finished in time to watch one of their women play netball in the town that afternoon.

Planning is half the fun and what a plan!

Jacko the builder had the hut collapsed in slats, they would leave early so they could own the road, hook the load behind the dinghy on the Mataura River and tow it round the Fortrose estuary and up to Titiroa.

The finer points of the plan had been put together over a few jugs at the Waikiwi — or was it the Northern?

The darkness gave them good cover on the road but a bit of a panic when they couldn't find the dinghy.

"Surely no one would steal the old river slug," they said.

And sure enough, there were the washed out colours blending well with the overgrowth.

"Its high tide," called Tony as his boots filled with river water.

They'd need all the water they could get to float the slats up the estuary.

The load tied on behind, they cranked on the outboard motor.

No sign of life.

Someone had the insight to tip a can of meths over the engine.

After that no one was keen to be within a 100m when it sparked up.

Not that it did.

Half an hour later, the car battery in the boat, they got some life.

Like a master navigator, Pete dodged the sandbars and kept the nose pointed to Fortrose with the load behind them.

Suddenly they were passed by the slats and then the rope.

That was because the boat was beached in good old Mataura River mud.

The tide was out for lunch.

There was nothing for it but to crack a few cans and discuss the incompetence of the All Blacks' coach.

From the roadside the beached dinghy was giving the locals a laugh.

"Look at those townies stuck in the middle of the river," laughed a passing netball team.

Oddly, one of the women kept her head down.

A few hours later the water surged into the river channels and the dinghy was afloat to hearty cheers.

The cheers died along with the engine.

"Who was in charge of petrol?"

The sorry troupe managed to make it to shore and secure the slats.

Then a quick cellphone call to the netballer for help.

The manly expedition ended with the three explorers jammed in a van full of netballers and, after a day on the river, they knew there were worse places to be stuck.

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« Reply #3 on: April 03, 2009, 04:25:31 pm »

Whitebait elusive on opening day

By PHIL MCCARTHY - The Southland Times | Wednesday, 16 August 2006

MAN AND DOG: Neil Thompson and his dog Toby try their luck at the beginning of whitebait season as Barry Stratford chugs past. BARRY HARCOURT/The Southland Times.

MAN AND DOG: Neil Thompson and his dog Toby try their luck at
the beginning of whitebait season as Barry Stratford chugs past.
— BARRY HARCOURT/The Southland Times

Southland whitebaiters experienced a frustrating opening to the season yesterday but rivers could settle down by the weekend, a long-time whitebaiter said.

Popular opening-day spots were inhabited with the usual opening-day enthusiasm yesterday but the fish were nowhere to be found with rivers running high and dirty after weekend rain.

Reports from the lower Mataura indicated the slithery delicacy was hard to come by.

Long-time Mataura River whitebaiter Tommy Thomson said he didn't bother going out yesterday.

"I think I'll wait until Saturday."

There appeared to be a lot of whitebait in the river before the wet weather at the weekend, he said.

"I think it'll be a good season."

Southland Whitebaiters Association president Graham Gough said the Mataura was dropping yesterday and he hoped conditions would be a lot better for fishing in two to three days' time. His total catch for the day was between 15 and 20, which were all returned to the water.

Time was better spent on repairs to his hut, Mr Gough said.

The MetService was forecasting a mostly fine day today with brief showers later and a westerly change.


Council supports vehicle access for Waikuku Beach whitebaiters

By ROBYN BRISTOW in RANGIORA - The Press | Wednesday, 16 August 2006

Whitebaiters will be able to drive to their favourite fishing spots at the Ashley River mouth today to catch the delicacy but will have to travel a prescribed route.

The Waimakariri District Council last evening gave the thumbs up to continuing with controlled vehicle access via a key system at Waikuku Beach while it negotiates its way through red tape to write vehicle access routes into two statutory plans — Environment Canterbury's (ECan) Regional Coastal Environment Plan and the Waikuku Beach Reserves Management Plan.

It also resolved to change the status of the Waikuku Beach reserve from recreational to local purpose, giving people the right to drive through it.

Around 80 fishermen, many of them whitebaiters, spilled out of the council chamber and into the foyer to listen to the council debate its position on access for 90 minutes.

They were joined by National MP Kate Wilkinson, ECan Cr Robert Johnston and ECan staff.

An amendment that would have kept the brakes on whitebaiters while a working party looked at access issues in the district was lost 8-2 while retaining the status quo and finding a way through the dunes for fishermen was passed 8-2.

Crs Jo Kane and John Shivas voted against promoting statutory plan changes or changing the reserve status saying the council was promoting an illegal activity by thumbing its nose at a Parliamentary Act.

"It's not legal and it's not right," said Cr John Shivas.

Cr Robbie Brine, a keen fisherman, said denying vehicle access to people who had traditionally fished in the Ashley River estuary and along the beach would alienate a significant part of the population who loved the area with a passion and fished there all their lives.

The council would be telling older people and the infirm they would have to find somewhere else to fish despite them not being the ones who were causing environmental damage to the coast.

Brine said his gear alone weighed 80kg and to lug it along with food and a seat 1km to the beach would be difficult.

Cr Peter Farrant said it was unrealistic for the council to expect people to give up a practice they got immense joy from.

The council and other organisations needed to be focusing their attention on more extensive long term damage to the dunes by other users.

Cr Dan Gordon called on ECan to change its regional coastal environment plan and grant access exemptions for mahinga kai (food) gathering and fishing.

Crawford Liddell was at the Waimakariri River "with the sparrows" for the opening of the whitebait season yesterday.

However, the 5am start for the Christchurch fisherman with 60 years experience did not net him a lot of whitebait.

"I haven't got enough for the wife's sister yet," he said.

Liddell was one of half a dozen keen fishermen who braved the cool conditions, but was undecided about whether he would be back on the river bank this morning.

Last year there had been quite a lot of whitebait around on the first two days of the season. "It doesn't look so good this year, but it is early days yet," he said.

The Ashley River estuary was deserted as the debate continued over vehicle access for fishermen.

Liddell, who fishes both the Waimakariri and Ashley rivers, said access for fishermen to the Ashley estuary via the beach was up for debate thanks to "a few bad apples in the barrel".

"A few people are spoiling it for the rest of us. It's a bit like boyracers spoiling it for the other motorists," he said.


Timid start to whitebait season

By MELISSA WARDELL - Wairarapa Times-Age | Wednesday, 16 August 2006

Trevor Nunn “gets the nets wet” on the first day of the 2006 whitebait season. LYNDA FERINGA/Wairarapa Times-Age.

Trevor Nunn “gets the nets wet” on the first day of the 2006 whitebait season.
 — LYNDA FERINGA/Wairarapa Times-Age

The 2006 whitebait season got off to a timid start at Lake Ferry yesterday with a freezing southerly keeping the fishermen – and the fish – at bay.

It's apparently well known in the whitebaiting world that southerlies aren't conducive to big hauls of the slippery little delicacy, and that seemed to be the case yesterday morning.

Mary Tipoki, of the Lake Ferry Hotel, said despite the cold weather there were still a few good keen fishermen trying their luck on opening day.

"It's fine and freezing down here this morning," she said. "You'd have be jolly hardy to get out there."

Despite the cold start, Mrs Tipoki said she has heard from customers in the hotel that there are whitebait around. They believe the nature of bird activity in the area and a number of dead whitebait seen washed up on the beach are signs the fish are around.

"They say there have already been a lot of whitebait going up the lake."

Mrs Tipoki said there has been "so much water activity" in the area over the past month that the shape of the lake has changed.

Due to extensive flooding in the region a lot of debris, in the shape of logs, has littered the beachfront leading to the mouth, which Mrs Tipoki said might make it difficult for some whitebaiters to "get to their possies".

But "the gap" is open and as far as she can tell it should be full steam ahead.

One of the good keen whitebaiters braving the conditions yesterday was Trevor Nunn from Gladstone, east of Masterton. Mr Nunn said he had to put his nets out "just in case", despite the inclement weather.

"It's the first day of the season so you have to get your nets wet," said Mr Nunn, who has been whitebaiting at Lake Ferry for the past 15 years.

Mr Nunn said now he has retired he's able to spend the entire whitebait season, which runs through till November 30, at Lake Ferry. He is not too concerned about yesterday's slow start, he said, as the season tends to hit its peak in October.

During his 15 years at Lake Ferry, Mr Nunn said the year 2000 was the best season he can remember.

"That was the best year I know of. I would have got about 40 pound that season."

Mr Nunn said a series of little floods would be sure to set off a run of whitebait.

"Hopefully they haven't already been and gone," he laughed.


Whitebaiters brave icy waters

By MERVYN DYKES - Manawatu Standard | Thursday, 17 August 2006

PRAYER MEETING: David Boddy, left, and Eirene Holland, centre, joined the Worshipful Order of Whitebaiters in early morning devotions at Himatangi Beach yesterday. JONATHAN CAMERON/Manawatu Standard.

PRAYER MEETING: David Boddy, left, and Eirene Holland,
centre, joined the Worshipful Order of Whitebaiters in
early morning devotions at Himatangi Beach yesterday.
— JONATHAN CAMERON/Manawatu Standard

Whitebait are there for early birds at Himatangi this year, but only in one-fritter and two-fritter lots so far.

Nevertheless, regular fishers are sure that whole schools of them will arrive when tides and temperatures are more favourable.

The season, which opened on Tuesday, holds promise for stalwarts such as Eirene Holland, who was well set up before breakfast yesterday with cushion, thermos, Manawatu Standard, waders, radio "and plenty of patience".

"Two seasons ago, I got nine and a half pounds (4.3kg) here in one day," she said. "It was a real awesome day.

"I love whitebait fritters, and have them every year."

If she catches a lot on one day, her usual tactic is to cook up a big feed while they are fresh and put the remainder away for snacking through the rest of the year.

She cooks them "just with egg, a little butter and seasoning, but with bread and butter on the side".

Yesterday morning at the Kaikokopu Stream — commonly referred to as the Himatangi Beach stream — there were only six fishers on the early shift (before 9am), but they expected more around 2pm.

"There were 17 across the mouth yesterday," said John Southey of Palmerston North, who had been fishing since 6.30am.

"It's not quite right yet," he said, "but I've got a few."

So had his wife, Marion, who was working closer to the mouth of the stream. But unbeknown to him, she had been feeding most of them to Stuart Walker's mooching jack russell, Jess.

"Jess'll eat anything but tomatoes and onions," he said.

The Southeys have followed their usual practice of taking a week off to go whitebaiting.

Others are also enjoying themselves in the stream, despite its icy water under a thin mantle of mist.

"How much have you got?" one calls to another.

"Enough for a fritter," is the reply.

Eirene Holland reckons she's catching at a rate of three an hour, but says she's enjoying the relaxation.

So are others.

"There's more to it than catching whitebait," says a woman too shy to be named.

"It's so relaxing. It's lovely ... better than going to work (at a clothing factory). I really enjoy it. They're a good crowd (here) and it's a social event."

"Earlier this morning, you could have got a clear shot of Egmont," says someone else. "On a good day, you can see Kapiti Island, or maybe even the South Island."

Every now and then, it's back into the water for a spot of whitebait herding — using a stick to coax them into the nets. Meanwhile, back on the bank, Jess is still mooching and Marion is still putty in her paws.

"She's a good dog," says Stuart Walker. "She'll work cattle and sheep and do just about any job you ask."


Ross revels in mixing it with the oldies

By SARAH McMAHON - Franklin County News | Friday, 18 August 2006

FISHING FOR FUN: Unlike most guys his age, 18 year-old Ross Irwin loves whitebaiting, and says he is excited about the new season, which begins today. Franklin County News.

FISHING FOR FUN: Unlike most guys his age,
18 year-old Ross Irwin loves whitebaiting, and
says he is excited about the new season, which
begins today. — Franklin County News

Whitebaiting season starts this week. While the sport is usually taken up by those born before 1980, one Puni resident is a rare exception.

Ross Irwin is 18, and unlike most guys his age, he makes the most of the whitebaiting season (August 15 to November 30) and heads out to his bach on the Elbow most weekends.

"It's relaxing," says the boat mechanic apprentice.

He got into the sport through his grandfather, who gave his boat to Ross when he passed away.

Ross enjoys the time by himself but also likes catching up with the older guys out on the river.

I know heaps of people out there," he says. "It's good to mix and mingle."

Ross says his friends do not think it is strange that he enjoys the sport, but some of the older guys do.

They are not used to someone so young being into it. They think it is good though."

The Puni resident says most of his friends get bored when they go out to the batch.

"There is not a lot to do out there but fish and read. They all want to go home after an hour."

But although not everyone wants to go out on the river and fish for whitebait, the apprentice says everyone wants to eat it.

"I don't really like giving it away to people, I would rather eat it myself."

Ross says the sport seems to have become more popular over the years with Aucklanders.

"Not a lot of younger people are taking it up, but there are more townies coming out to go whitebaiting."

He is excited about the beginning of the season, as he just packed up from the year's duck-shooting in June.

"People think it should be a good year," he says.

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« Reply #4 on: April 03, 2009, 04:27:06 pm »

'Tis the whitebait season

Waikato Times | Wednesday, 23 August 2006


— BRUCE MERCER/Waikato Times

I'm definitely one of those people who gets excited by seasonal arrivals, and one of the few moments of excitement I share with my husband Stephen is the arrival of the whitebait season. When we arrived at Seafood Bazaar last week both sets of eyes lit up at the large bowl of those divine little fish which command such an enormous price. Now is the time to get some whitebait and enjoy the start of the season.

Admittedly, the excitement has been building for a few weeks as we were recently in Christchurch and met the sister-in-law of a business colleague of ours. She had a whitebaiting get-away — a wee shack beside a South Island river. The name of the river was not revealed as they're all incredibly secretive about location. Her son had recently installed a pot-belly stove for her comfort — thanks young man, because I'd freeze to death at this time of the year.

So how do we catch these tiny little fish? The Conservation Department website has strict rules about the start and finish of the season and how you are able to fish. And then there is the fierce protection of favoured spots in the river, which can get extremely territorial. Quite frankly, it's a lot safer to go to Seafood Bazaar and get as much as you can while it's in season. We are extremely fortunate in the Waikato – where the price of whitebait is sometimes $20 a kg or so cheaper than larger cities north and south.

The cooking of whitebait also comes with many different and very particular techniques. After all, at nearly $100 a kilo you don't want to be burning your fritters and throwing them out.

The lovely ladies from the Lions Club in Hokitika who cook whitebait fritters at the Hokitika Wild Foods Festival just use whitebait and eggs and serve on a slice of buttered French stick.

Some of my Yugoslavian friends do the same, but separate the eggs. They beat the whites until stiff and then fold through the whitebait and egg yolk which gives a very light web around the whitebait.

In Mokau on the way to New Plymouth you can get a whitebait fritter either made with flour or as an omelette. The flour version is a little stodgy for my taste, so the omelette is the preferred option as it enhances the delicate taste of the whitebait.

In Westport we've had a whitebait fritter which was more like the size of a small flying saucer, with a side salad and chips squeezed on to the side of the plate — that was for a mere $12!

Then there's the other European favourite, in which the whitebait is lightly dusted in flour and quickly deepfried in olive oil until the flour is crispy but the fish haven't been completely frizzled. I would recommend this style for the slightly larger version of whitebait rather than the highly sought after West Coast ones.

The way I make my fritters is simple.



  • 1 beaten egg per 100g whitebait (rinsed in cold water in a small sieve).
  • Mix the egg and whitebait together.
  • Heat half and half extra virgin olive oil and butter in a frypan (or use clarified butter).
  • Spoon tablespoons of the whitebait mixture into the pan without overcrowding it.
  • Lightly cook one side before flipping to cook the other side. You don't want to over-colour the fritters.
  • Place in a warmed oven until all the fritters are cooked.
  • Serve with a wedge of lemon, salt and pepper, and savour each mouthful.

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« Reply #5 on: April 03, 2009, 04:27:48 pm »

Pontoon, anyone?

SOUTHLANDER - The Southland Times | Saturday, 26 August 2006

When the bros came to take on Mother Nature they made sure they were well prepared. The landing, walkway and pontoon for the whitebait hut were loaded on to one trailer, inflatable dinghies on another and leading the way a Southland Farmer's ute complete with "wide load" sign and flashing light, writes Gerry Forde in this week's Southlander.

When the procession went through Tokanui, kids came out as if it was the Santa Parade.

The Old Bugger, who had built the impressive structure, stood on the river's edge waving directions to the backing trailer with his crutches.

The brand new landing hit the water with a splash that sent a tidal wave up the Titiroa.

Almost as if in response, the rain started and the bros had a sense that forces were working against them.

The dinghy that was to tow the walkway was so small that the pilots were chosen on a quick show of beer gut — the two skinniest bros tipping the boat like a see-saw until it finally floated on the river.

Memories of being sandbanked on the Mataura while taking out the hut returned but the bros had a plan.

It came in the form of a spare outboard motor that they attached to the back of the landing.

With the dinghy pulling and the landing motor pushing, the new walkway headed up the Titiroa at a pace that almost kept up with the three kids walking on the bank.

One kilometre and an hour later they arrived at the whitebait hut, where the kids had been waiting for 20 minutes.

They released the old pontoon and let it float to the bank before securing the new landing on its chains.

A cheer went up from the bank as they gazed on the engineering miracle of a 3m walkway extending out to the landing.

It was the thrill of overcoming Mother Nature with a cunning plan that would lead to the best victory of all — whitebait by the pound!

They tied the old pontoon behind the dinghy and headed downstream to where the trailers were parked.

This time, against the tide and a motor down, the trip took two hours.

Then, taking axes from the ute, they smashed the old landing in an orgy of violence.

They biffed the pieces on the trailers and headed home to the city, every man a true White Hunter and conqueror of the river.

That night while the bros celebrated their victory, a low tide on the Titiroa beached the walkway and it disconnected itself, pushing the landing off its chains.

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« Reply #6 on: April 03, 2009, 04:28:14 pm »

WHITEBAIT: Wayne Thomson, of Gore, with his catch of the day whitebaiting on the Mataura River on Monday, 28th August 2006. Mr Thomson said the delicacy was in short supply because there was a lot of snowmelt in the water. “It's chicken feed really. It's well down on an average day,” Mr Thomson said, referring to his 1kg catch for the day. He said he would wait another week before venturing out on the river again. “It's just not worth it at the moment.” The season runs until 30th November.

WHITEBAIT: Wayne Thomson, of Gore, with his catch of the day whitebaiting on the
Mataura River on Monday, 28th August 2006. Mr Thomson said the delicacy was in
short supply because there was a lot of snowmelt in the water. “It's chicken feed
really. It's well down on an average day,” Mr Thomson said, referring to his 1kg catch
for the day. He said he would wait another week before venturing out on the river
again. “It's just not worth it at the moment.” The season runs until 30th November.
 — BARRY HARCOURT/The Southland Times
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« Reply #7 on: April 03, 2009, 04:29:16 pm »

Whitebait trickles on to market — at a price

NZPA | Wednesday, 06 September 2006

“The Whitebait!”

Whitebait connoisseurs better be well cashed-up if they want a good feed this year after a poor early start to the West Coast season.

The season opened on September 01, but rivers on the West Coast have been running dirty and there have been few sightings of the tiny delicacy.

West Coast Whitebaiters Association president Jim Bushby said today the only catch he'd heard of was enough for "just a few patties" from the Grey River.

"The rivers are all flowing dirty. There's just nothing there," he said. "They've been dirty for the last three or four days and I suspect they're dirty from one end of the Coast to the other."

Seasoned whitebaiters were waiting for fine weather and high spring tides expected in about a week.

About a kilogram of new season's whitebait arrived at the Christchurch wholesale fish market yesterday but was snaffled by a retailer who was prepared to pay almost $250.

The country's main supplier, Christchurch dealer Cascade Whitebait Ltd, received its first supplies from the Cascade River, South Westland, today but just half the usual amount at this time of the season.

Cascade marketing manager Neville Cane said prices for the few bait available ranged from $99 a kilogram to $160 a kilo, "depending on where you go".

Cascade's price was $99 a kilo, or $9.90 for 100g.

Mr Cane acknowledged the dirty state of West Coast rivers, but said he was expecting a steady supply in the next week.

"There's a good weather pattern coming."

However, he suggested whitebait fanciers shouldn't hold back and wait for prices to ease further into the season, which runs until November 14 on the West Coast.

"It's going to be what we call an early season (with good quantities early and fewer later)," he said.

"We recommend people don't hang back and wait for the price to come down, but to get in early if they want a good feed."

Mr Cane attested to the quality of the early arrivals.

"It's still jumping," he said. "They took it out of the net last night as they were coming over in the plane."


Donna’s out early, hoping for a feed

The Timaru Herald | Wednesday, 06 September 2006

RED SKY MORNING, WHITEBAIT WARNING: Donna Bennett out catching whitebait yesterday morning at Smithfield Beach. Donna got her first whitebait when she was four, and 60 years later she's still enjoying it. JOHN BISSET/The Timaru Herald.

catching whitebait yesterday morning at Smithfield Beach. Donna
got her first whitebait when she was four, and 60 years later she's
still enjoying it. — JOHN BISSET/The Timaru Herald

She got her first whitebaiting net when she was four, and 60 years later is still enjoying daybreak with a net in her hand.

Timaru woman Donna Bennett was at Smithfield Beach yesterday morning, catching a small feed of whitebait, and will be there today, and tomorrow, and the next day, until the season ends in November.

"I go most days for a look.

"I prefer to start at six, when it is starting to get light. It is too dark before that."

However, Smithfield beach did not provide a lot of patties.

"I just like to look at the sunrise and hopefully catch a few bait.

"I go out on my own, but I'm not the only person there."

While she trots off to Smithfield, her husband favours the Opihi mouth.

"When you are retired the pay is not so good, but at least this is free."


Lake Ferry whitebaiters’ struggle for a catch

By MELISSA WARDELL/Wairarapa Times-Age | Thursday, 07 September 2006

Reports of slow progress for whitebaiters have come as no surprise to Lake Ferry resident and hotelier, Mary Tipoki.

Guests at the Lake Ferry Hotel and the Holiday Park, both owned by the Tipoki family, have told Mrs Tipoki that whitebait are being caught "in dribs and drabs" but she hasn't heard of any substantial catches.

"From what I observe, the catches are not consistent any more, and that is no surprise."

Mrs Tipoki said she has noticed "so many changes" to the environment in her 35 years at Lake Ferry, and believes changes to whitebait habitats are directly related to diminishing numbers.

"Look what people have done to (the whitebait's) environment. If we continue to ruin their waterways, eventually we may not have any at all."

Lake Ferry is known as something of a whitebait mecca. Many keen "baiters" make their annual pilgrimage to the lake every season, parking up camper vans or setting up tents for months at a time, just to try their luck.

But Mrs Tipoki said soon there might be nothing for these people to catch.

"Our focus these days is on use of land — it's been a priority for years now — so waterways have given way to land.

"All these rivers, bridges, weirs — fish can't get through them so they can't reach their feeding grounds."

Several years ago, Mrs Tipoki worked together with Department of Conservation Officer Albert Rebergen (who is now based in Christchurch) to try and raise awareness about responsible use of wetlands and waterways. But, she says, the situation has only continued to get worse.

Mrs Tipoki said draining of land in South Wairarapa during the 1960's played a major part in the destruction of wetlands in the area, much of which were the habitat of whitebait populations.

"It's more destruction of habitat than overfishing that is affecting whitebait numbers — 95 per cent of the wetlands have now been destroyed."

In the meantime, Mrs Tipoki said there is still a solid team of whitebaiters trying their luck at Lake Ferry. She heard that a couple of baiters caught over a pound each at the weekend.

"Those people were lucky," she said.

"Apparently a shoal went through. But that's what whitebaiting is all about — being in the right place at the right time, and having a lot of patience."

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« Reply #8 on: April 03, 2009, 04:30:37 pm »

Maria's winning Whitebait Fritter recipe:
     ‘Quarter-Pounder Mokihinui Style’

Maria's winning Whitebait Fritter recipe: ‘Quarter-Pounder Mokihinui Style’


  • ¼ lb (125g) whitebait
  • 1 egg
  • generous lump of butter
  • salt & pepper
  • sea salt
  • 1 lemon


  • Lightly beat the egg and stir in the whitebait.
  • Season with salt and pepper.
  • Pour onto a hot, well buttered frying pan.
  • Cook the pattie ‘till it’s golden on each side.
  • Present with ground sea salt and a very generous squeeze of lemon juice on top.

Enjoy with a salad on the side!

Sautéed Whitebait & Fresh Asparagus
     with Beurre Blanc Sauce

Sautéed Whitebait & Fresh Asparagus with Beurre Blanc Sauce

Step 1 — Beurre Blanc Sauce


  • 50ml White Wine
  • 50ml White Wine Vinegar
  • 1 Shallot (1 Tbl)
  • 8 Peppercorns
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 100ml Cream
  • 250g Butter (cold and cut in cm squares)
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Squeeze of Lemon Juice


  • Place the wine and vinegar in a saucepan.
  • Rough chop the shallot and add to the liquid with the peppercorns and bay leaf.
  • Place on medium heat and reduce the wine and vinegar by three-quarters.
  • Next add the cream and reduce by half.
  • Cool slightly then return to very low heat.
  • Now whisk in the butter piece by piece until fully incorporated and silky smooth in appearance.
  • Now strain the sauce through a fine sieve and discard the solids.
  • Taste the beurre blanc sauce and season with salt & pepper, and a squeeze of lemon juice if required.
  • The Beurre Blanc will keep in this form for a couple of hours if kept covered in a warm place.
  • Once it's cold it can't be reheated as it will split.

Step 2 — Cooking Asparagus & Whitebait, Plating & Serving

Sautéed Whitebait & Fresh Asparagus with Beurre Blanc Sauce


  • 40g Asparagus Spears
  • 400g Whitebait (dried with a towel)
  • 500g Flour
  • Cooking Oil
  • Butter (for cooking)
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Buerre Blanc Sauce (see Step 1)
  • Lemon wedges to garnish


  • Place a large saucepan of salted water on high heat for cooking the asparagus.
  • Once boiling, add the asparagus.
  • Now take a skillet or sauté pan and bring up to high heat.
  • In batches place the dried whitebait in a dry sieve and cover with heaps of flour.
  • Shaking the sieve, remove all the flour from the whitebait, leaving just a micro covering on each individual whitebait.
  • Now add cooking oil and butter to the hot pan and immediately add the whitebait.
  • Cook for about a minute on each side, until slightly golden.
  • Remove and keep warm while you finish cooking the rest.
  • The asparagus will be cooked after 4-5 minutes.
  • To plate, divide the cooked asparagus onto warm plates and top with the sautéed whitebait.
  • Spoon around liberal amounts of Beurre Blanc Sauce and finish with a squeeze of lemon juice.

Serve and enjoy!
« Last Edit: November 03, 2009, 01:03:01 am by Brontosaurus » Report Spam   Logged
« Reply #9 on: April 03, 2009, 04:31:14 pm »

‘Greedy’ baiters exploit loophole

By PHIL MCCARTHY - The Southland Times | Wednesday, 20 September 2006

“Whitebait Spawnography”

Concerns are mounting about the future of whitebaiting in the south because of greedy whitebaiters cleaning out waterways.

A certain amount of the sought-after delicacy needs to get upstream to spawn each season to bolster future stocks but some fishing practises were limiting the amount of spawning possible, authorities said.

Environment Southland compliance officer David Conner said he had investigated several complaints about the illegal operation of net pulley systems this season. Pulley systems have to be removed at the end of each fishing session.

Three unconsented, illegal whitebaiting structures had been found on the Oreti River and were being removed, he said.

Environment Southland councillors at a meeting last week expressed concern about the depletion of whitebait breeding stocks.

Cr Jim Fenton said regulations needed to be changed as whitebaiters were exploiting a rule that nets could occupy only one-third of a waterway.

It needed to be rewritten as being one-third of a waterway from the edge — some whitebaiters were rigging up nets across the middle third of a waterway, he said.

Cr Derek Angus said he had encountered whitebaiters using up to five nets on different parts of the same stream, while Cr Ted Loose questioned the point of trying to look after spawning grounds when whitebait were unable to get upstream.

The councillors decided that a letter should be written to the Department of Conservation about the matter. Environment Southland administers whitebaiting structures while DOC administers whitebait regulations.

DOC biodiversity programme manager Pete Lowen yesterday acknowledged an overhaul of whitebaiting regulations was timely.

A DOC spokeswoman yesterday said compliance patrols were underway and some gear had been seized.

DOC received numerous calls from people advising it of people breaking the rules but most were anonymous or well after the fact.

Reports that could be substantiated were followed up by compliance staff. Previous year's patrols had resulted in several prosecutions, she said.

DOC had a steady relationship with the Southland Whitebaiters Association which promoted and supported its actions, she said.

Southland Whitebaiters Association president Graham Gough declined to comment on the matter.

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« Reply #10 on: April 03, 2009, 04:31:49 pm »

The Whitebait Man


Charles Mitchell has spent nine years investing his time and money into researching the aquaculture of whitebait. He wants to improve New Zealand’s depleted whitebait stocks and find a use for waste effluent from farms. What drives his passion?

Whitebait researcher and breeder Charles Mitchell has devoted his life to one of the smallest fish on the Kiwi gourmet menu but he thinks big. Early on in his 31-year research career — much of it with the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries studying native and exotic fish in the Rotorua lakes — the biologist regarded whitebait (or inanga) as a prime candidate for aquaculture and has never changed his mind. “What if you caught fish and they didn’t all die? What if some lived and you genetically rewarded them for being caught? As a fish biologist I’ve always wanted to create a sustain-able fishery,” he says at his Raglan harbourside home-cum-laboratory-cum-fish farm.

Do I detect more than detached scientific curiosity? Is there more than a hint of enthusiasm in those words? You bet. “Sustainability is a wonderful idea. I get very excited about it. I see it as something affecting evolution and domestication. I am obsessed [because] there are just so many levels to it.”

Just how many levels I learn while touring Mitchell’s unique establishment — a tour that takes me from the lab that doubles as his adult children’s kitchen, to the garage where vehicles jostle with rows of fish tanks, past a line of large, white, plastic barrels brewing plankton, up to the vacant house site where only Benjamin the donkey enjoys the spectacular view of the most inland reaches of the Raglan harbour and, finally, to the heart of Mitchell’s passion: six, 140-metre long, man-made lagoons teeming with whitebait and more than a few eels and mullet. It’s not your average home and garden. “All these thousands of happy feeding fish look great but, sadly, just harvesting the wild resource while it lasts makes better economic sense,” he says. “We’ve even bred the rare, giant, native trout for aquariums and restocking but there is no market for them.”

The solitary splendour enjoyed by the donkey is testament to the degree of Mitchell’s obsession. Nearly a decade of self-funded research into the ways of whitebait has left scant money for the home he promised his wife, Jan, when they left Rotorua for Raglan nine years ago. Instead, the couple and their three children have lived below the brow of the hill on the 25ha property, out of sight of the million-dollar views and sharing basic but comfortable living quarters with lab equipment and farm gear. Most of the income from Mitchell’s day job as a fisheries consultant has been ploughed into whitebait — the goal not merely to take what the sea sends in but to farm the tiny, prized fish that are already one of New Zealand’s highest-value seafoods, sometimes fetching up to $250/kg and seldom less than $100/kg.

Mitchell’s dream is for aquaculture to be as ubiquitous as agriculture in New Zealand. Better yet, for them to be profitably done side by side. There’s much to gain. “It takes a tonne of oil to catch a tonne of fish from the ocean. The overall energy consumption in fishing, processing, freezing and transport is huge,” he says. “If you could simply get the fish swimming back to you, think of the fuel that would save.” A dreamer he may be, but he’s already had some success. Mitchell is the only person in New Zealand to artificially breed whitebait and is now routinely spawning large shoals. But being able to breed and rear thousands of whitebait that have returned from the ocean to his ponds beside the Waitetuna River has not proved viable. Enough come back each spring to boost the population by around 25% a year. While good for the whitebait stocks, it’s not enough on which to base an aquaculture venture. The big barrier to better returns and a commercially viable whitebait industry appears to be the incredibly high natural death rate of larvae. It’s tough out there. In the wild, more than 99.5% of whitebait larvae die between hatching and returning from the sea.

“What we are looking for are means of intervention and domestication that will break that pattern. If we could improve survival by even 1% our population could rapidly shift from biologically sustainable to economically sustainable,” Mitchell says. He theorises that feeding and protecting the larvae in ponds to get them past the major early mortality period may greatly improve returns.

Mother of invention

From necessity, Mitchell has become the proverbial No 8 wire inventor. The automated fish feeders, for instance, incorporate hubcaps and parts of discarded drink bottles to create unique but functional water wheels that turn just slowly enough to enable a modicum of food to drop all day to the whitebait below. He tried commercial products costing $600 each but they performed poorly. The uniquely designed ponds presently each contain between 7,000 and 40,000 whitebait. Water is pumped in by gravity and tidal energy. Wind provides aeration. Natural tidal triggers within the ponds prompt mass whitebait spawning and egg laying. This fish farm uses no electricity.

Amid this background of minimal cost, Mitchell turned to trialling a variety of agricultural waste — cow manure slurry, chicken and horse manure, winery waste yeast, fish processing waste, even chopped clover — as test diets for plankton on which he could feed his baby whitebait. He’s even scoured sewage ponds, stock troughs and tidal pools for minuscule plankton that whitebait will eat. Three species have proven success-ful under intensive culture: rotifers, which live happily in sewage ponds filtering algae and bacteria; harpacticoid copepods, which occupy tidal rock pools; and cladocera, which hail from polluted fresh water (Mitchell’s stock is from a horse trough at Hamilton’s Claudelands showgrounds). In those large barrels where they look like suspended sediment, Mitchell feeds the plankton on what they love — algae and bacteria from the likes of dairy effluent ponds — to produce the vast, living food store he needs for his baby fish over their critical first weeks. Given the chance, whitebait grow rapidly. In the sea, they make a 430-fold weight gain in three to five months, before they return to coastal waterways.

An $80,000 grant over two years from the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology (FRST) is helping fund Mitchell’s latest work. Some of the money will be spent developing a machine to harvest plankton from farm effluent ponds so it could be delivered to the hungry larvae in coastal ponds. Alternatively, the whitebait — and eels and mullet — could be stocked in high-performing effluent ponds on farms and grown on site. Unfortunately, most farm effluent ponds are too small and overloaded for fish to survive but that could change if farmers had a mind to. And some do. A recent news story in Mitchell’s local newspaper had a couple of farmers knocking on Mitchell’s door. Unsurprising, really, when you consider dairy farmers have been stung by Fish and Game’s ‘dirty dairying’ name-and-shame campaign focusing on the environmental impacts of polluting dairy effluent. Like a canary down a mine, healthy fish downstream of a dairy shed would be undeniable proof of clean and green. Waikato Federated Farmers president Peter Buckley says Mitchell’s ideas have merit but local farmers want to know more about the science behind them. The critical point for farmers, though, is whether there is sufficient payback to warrant investing in fish-friendly effluent ponds, he says. It would have to be more economically viable than spraying effluent on to pasture before farmers switch. Agriculture’s trash could be Mitchell’s treasure. Farm effluent is polluting because it is so biologically productive — just the sort of thing a dedicated fish farmer and his whitebait could thrive on. “All kinds of organic waste can be used to produce food for plankton because they feed on the bacteria and algae produced during the breakdown of wastes in water.”

It will be a pleasing synergy if land-based farms do come to the aid of fish. “The collapse of the whitebait fishery in the Waikato is largely due to the draining of wetlands for dairy farming,” Mitchell says. “If we could use dairy farm effluent to feed fish larvae, dairying could make a significant contribution to the fishery’s recovery. Biological waste can be turned into valuable biological products, depending on how you manage it. My research could offer the agriculture industry new ways to manage effluent while also supporting a high value fishery.”

While proof of concept is some way off, Mitchell’s pleased with results so far. But then, he’s a patient man. “With the rotifers we grew this year we achieved a 25% increase in the length of the whitebait within four days — before they ate everything and we had to release.” And after seven generations, his captive breeding whitebait are growing larger and producing more than three times the number of eggs hatched by their counterparts in the wild.

Ian Gray, a research and development project director with the Ibis Group, has been working with Mitchell and says the research has exciting potential for other aquaculture industries and for environmental restoration. The various algae propagated could also be used for feeding other aquaculture species and the low-tech approach for integrating aquaculture and passive water systems is currently being evaluated by a South Island regional council for restoring a large and heavily degraded coastal water body. “This is about thinking outside the square and no longer taking an exploitive approach to a natural resource. Mitchell is very far-sighted,” Gray says.

Mitchell also aims to improve the overall health of the whitebait fishery. The catch varies wildly from year to year. Storms that turn harbours brown with soil are bad news for whitebait, and populations can be severely depleted because of them. “Commercialisation must not mean over-exploitation of native stocks. My research has the potential to provide the know-how and the techniques to grow the native inanga fishery within existing intensive land use and wetland loss to ensure it is sustainable.” Obsessed? Yeah, but in a good way.

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« Reply #11 on: April 03, 2009, 04:32:33 pm »

The beginner's guide to a whitebait hunt

The Press | Thursday, 28 September 2006

WHITEBAITING: A great Kiwi tradition. ALAN GIBSON.

WHITEBAITING: A great Kiwi tradition. — ALAN GIBSON

WILLY TROLOVE has some advice on how to catch whitebait.

Whitebaiting is a daft activity. It is so daft that it should really be called an inactivity. How else can you describe dawdling the day away on a stream edge while waiting for comically small fish to blunder into your net?

But despite this daftness, nothing quite matches the taste of freshly caught whitebait, in a freshly made fritter, freshly consumed.

So if a friend invites you to their bach during the whitebaiting season, take care how you respond. "No" is ill-considered. "Maybe" is misguided. "Yes" is sensible but unimaginative. "Yeehah!" is best, especially when it's accompanied by several minutes of running around the house banging frying pans together.

A year ago I went whitebaiting for the first time. My wife and I made our way to a beachside bach, not far from a secret whitebaiting stream known only to a few thousand locals. The bach was occupied by four friends and a large dog that answered to the name of Benny, but only when you were eating chocolate biscuits.

We had been told to dress appropriately, but didn't know what this meant. Perhaps we needed camouflage, so that the whitebait would think we were a natural river feature, such as a rock, an isthmus or an abandoned Holden.

On the way out of town, we trawled the aisles of a large retail emporium in search of something to wear. There were clothes for playing several kinds of sport, and more clothes for watching other people play several kinds of sport. There were no clothes for whitebaiting.

Whitebaiting is yet to be exploited by the apparel companies. This is, I suspect, due to the lack of televised whitebaiting competitions, the consequent shortage of celebrity whitebaiters, and the associated dearth of rock star/hotel heiress/porn actress girlfriends.

And so we purchased togs and jelly shoes. This was a mistake. The other whitebaiters were decked out in various combinations of wet-weather gear, waders, lifejackets, jerseys with elbow patches that their wives had sewn on, old trousers with binder-twine belts, and those hunting hats with the fold-down ears.

Appropriate dress for whitebaiting, it seems, is anything that allows you to dawdle the day away in atrocious weather. You never know when the whitebait will be running, and you don't want an inconvenient storm forcing you to abandon your net at the wrong moment.

But our clothing choice didn't matter. Whitebaiters are tolerant of newcomers no matter what they wear, because newcomers are unlikely to catch much.

The only thing a newcomer needs to be careful about is the invisible buffer zone that surrounds every whitebaiter and their net. Keep your net out of this zone and life is pleasant. Place your net inside it and tolerance will be replaced by scowls, muttering, sabotage or random violence.

The size of the buffer zone increases with the apparent cantankerousness of the whitebaiter. If the whitebaiter is a middle-aged lady who smells of scones, the zone may be just a few metres wide. If the whitebaiter is a wizened old man with a bull-mastiff gnawing on what appears to be a human thigh-bone, it may extend over the horizon.

Our hosts gave us nets and buckets. They also gave us equipment made out of plastic bottles, broom handles and tyre tubes. Some of this we tied around our waists and the rest we waved about in a vaguely ritualistic fashion hoping that this might help. It didn't.

There are many ways to whitebait. You can stand in the surf at the river-mouth and hope that something will blunder into your net before you get swept out to sea. You can lay a white board down on the streambed, wait for whitebait to swim over it, and try and catch them in your jelly shoes. Or you can place your net beside a riverbank and fall asleep in the long grass, while Benny eats your chocolate biscuits.

We tried all of these techniques with little luck. Fortunately, whitebait are difficult to see. Even if you are not catching any you can pretend that you are. All you have to do is pick up your net, inspect it, scoop out a fistful of imaginary whitebait and triumphantly deposit them into your bucket. Chances are that nobody will suspect your fraud.

We did this several times and although it made us feel better, it didn't greatly improve our catch. After dawdling the day away on a stream edge, my wife and I were cold, wet and hungry. We cursed our togs and our jelly shoes and dreamed of thermal underwear and electric blankets.

But it was all worthwhile. As we trudged back to the bach, our bucket held 12 freshly caught whitebait — just enough, perhaps, for a quarter of a freshly made fritter.

• Willy Trolove is a writer from Wellington.


Ashley whitebaiters face estuary lockout

By ROBYN BRISTOW - The Press | Thursday, 28 September 2006

Whitebaiters will soon be barred from using a gate at Waikuku Beach to go fishing in the Ashley River estuary.

The lock on the gate will be changed by the Waimakariri District Council tomorrow week, and only people launching or retrieving boats will be able to get a key.

The latest twist in the beach-access debate is not expected to stop people driving to their favourite fishing spots.

Several fishermen said yesterday that they would drive along the beach from the Waimakariri River mouth or hitch a boat to their vehicle and go through the gate.

Council acting chief executive Don Young said the council decided to recall the 70 keys that had been issued for the gate after getting legal advice on Environment Canterbury's (ECan) coastal marine area (CMA), which banned vehicles from the estuary to the high-tide mark.

People driving to the beach drove through part of the CMA to get to the water's edge.

He said the rules would be spelt out and a route specified for people wanting to launch boats or retrieve them in an agreement to be signed when they picked up their new key from the council's Rangiora service centre.

Young hoped fishermen would not get too heated over the development.

Mayor Jim Gerard said the new key system would not stop fishermen accessing the river mouth from the Waimakariri River end of the beach. He hoped a path to the estuary away from the CMA would be found in time for next year's whitebait season.

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« Reply #12 on: April 03, 2009, 04:33:04 pm »

Whitebaiters have a wee problem

By KAY BLUNDELL - The Dominion Post | Saturday, 07 October 2006

Whitebaiters desperate for a portable toilet near their prized fishing spots are just going to have to "hang on".

One whitebaiter on the Waikanae River, fed up with fellow enthusiasts "making do" in the river and on the riverbank, made a plea to Kapiti Mayor Alan Milne this week for a portable toilet to be placed nearby.

Council communications adviser Tony Cronin said the council sympathised with the 40-odd whitebaiters at the rivermouth, and wanted to ease the pressure, but there were a few problems.

"Where would the loo go? What would the neighbours think? And you have to consider how long whitebaiters have been doing what they are doing in the river or behind the nearest bush."

Installing a portable toilet in the flood-prone area would be costly and involve a long consent process, he said. "You would look pretty silly sitting on a portable loo if it flooded and you sailed out to sea."

There was already a public toilet about 250 metres from the main fishing area.

Whitebaiter and Kapiti regional councillor Chris Turver said that Conservation Department regulations specified whitebaiters should not move more than 10 metres from their nets.

"On that basis it would be a bit impractical to position a portable loo in such a way so all the people along the riverbank could reach it within 10 metres."

Whitebaiters were left with two choices — holding on, which was preferred by some female whitebaiters, or discreetly relieving themselves, as preferred by most blokes, he said.

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« Reply #13 on: April 03, 2009, 04:33:34 pm »

Whitebait slow to run this season

The Marlborough Express | Wednesday, 25 October 2006

Kaikoura whitebaiters are mourning a slow 2006 season, with few good catches made.

Since the season began on August 15, groups of hardy whitebaiters have sat patiently next to nets at the mouths of favourite Kaikoura waterways like Lyell Creek and the Kahutara River.

However, the catches have so far been disappointing, according to those the Kaikoura Star spoke to.

"Every time I come down I get a feed but it's been pretty slow," said Avis Campbell who was at the Lyell mouth on Saturday just before dusk.

She reported a "cracker" day's whitebaiting for those who were out with their nets the night before, Friday.

"They were really running."

However, generally so far the season had been late, which Mrs Campbell put down to changeable weather conditions.

There was more to whitebaiting than just catching whitebait, she reckoned.

"I just love doing it. It's relaxing being down on the river. You forget about everything else.

"It would be better if every time you picked up your net you got a bucketful but that's the name of the game," she said.

Even though she spent many evenings watching the little fish dodge her largely empty net, the tiny creatures never ceased to amaze her.

"It's amazing how those little fish can survive in that strong current."

Mrs Campbell said she would continue to pop down to the river for the odd night's whitebaiting before the season finished on November 30.

Whitebaiters at the Kahutara River, like the Grady family, had similar experiences, saying whitebait remained largely elusive this season.

Young Ocean Grady had the job of checking one of the small nets.

"Nothing yet!", he yelled, plopping it back into the water. He and his mum and sister had come to the mouth quite often this season and it was fun.

There are three species of whitebait in New Zealand waters, the inanga (Galaxias maculates) being the most commonly caught.

Whitebait spend part of their life cycle in fresh water and part in the sea.

After hatching in late autumn they are carried along rivers out to sea where they live and grow over winter.

In late winter and early spring the tiny species migrate back up rivers and streams, finally settling and growing in bush covered streams and swamps.

The start of the migration is thought to be influenced by river flows and phases of the moon.

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« Reply #14 on: April 03, 2009, 04:34:08 pm »

Armed squad called out after shots fired in Westport

The Press | Thursday, 02 November 2006

A dispute over a whitebaiting position sparked a police armed offenders squad (AOS) callout near Westport today and the arrest of a local man.

Detective Constable John Cunneen told NZPA an airgun was fired several times at a group of whitebaiters at Deadman's Creek, about 5km north of Westport, about 9.30am.

No one was injured.

AOS members from the West Coast and Nelson surrounded a house in Utopia Rd and a man was arrested without incident about 2pm.

Mr Cunneen said the man was unaware police had been called and co-operated fully once he was asked to leave the house.

It appeared to be a dispute about a whitebaiting position after an argument between several whitebaiters at the creek yesterday.

"One party says it's a dispute about whitebait," Mr Cunneen said. "The other party has a different view of matters."

A 42-year-old local man was charged with carelessly using a firearm and was bailed to appear in Westport District Court on 23 November.


West Coast whitebait war turns nasty

By SANDRA COX and MIKE STEERE - The Press | Friday, 03 November 2006

ON GUARD: An armed policeman closes Utopia Road, in Westport, during the Armed Offenders Squad callout yesterday. Westport News.

ON GUARD: An armed policeman closes Utopia Road,
in Westport, during the Armed Offenders Squad
callout yesterday. — Westport News

Potentially deadly arguments are erupting over the West Coast's lucrative whitebait, prompting police to call for calm.

Tensions erupted between rival whitebaiters yesterday when a man fired lead pellets at fishermen at Deadmans Creek, 6km north of Westport.

The shots prompted an Armed Offenders Squad callout. A 42-year-old Westport mechanic was arrested and charged with careless use of an airgun. He surrendered when police arrived at his house.

The man had allegedly fired shots at the fishermen as they set up nets.

No-one was injured.

Police said the incident was related to an old feud over a whitebaiting site on the creek.

The allure of whitebait has grown as it reaches up to $140 a kilogram in supermarkets. Many fishermen also sell the delicacy under the table, avoiding tax.

While some fishermen have permits for stands that have been in their families for generations, others claim particular spots.

Acting Sergeant Greg Goessi, of the Westport police, said that on waterways north of Westport, police this season had received at least six reports of whitebaiters threatening violence against other fishermen, damage to stands, and stolen fishing equipment.

Goessi said some fishermen were semi-professional, relying on the income for the whole year.

"It's a very big deal for them if the season is poor," he said.

Whitebaiting was attractive to beneficiaries, and some people pulled their children out of school to catch the tiny fish.

"When there's money involved, it brings out the worst in people."

Many whitebaiters thought they owned the fishery and needed an attitude change, Goessi said.

"People think, my grandmother fished here, I fished here, this is my piece of river. Well, it's not."

The Department of Conservation (DOC) was under-resourced for policing "so people take it into their own hands and sort matters out", Goessi said.

"The comments I get from locals is that these people are out-of-towners and who do they think they are coming here?"

Buller Mayor Martin Sawyers said the airgun incident highlighted concerns over whitebaiting's commercial side.

"Whitebait is wonderful and has some great cultural connotations, but once you have a commercial aspect to it, it sometimes brings out the bad side in people's nature," Sawyers said.

"Once you involve money it does attract some people it shouldn't."

Yesterday's incident was a one-off and would not harm the image of whitebaiting or the West Coast, he said.

"Most seasons the worst it gets is a punch-up on the banks of a river."

West Coast whitebaiters are no strangers to waterside disputes, with many reported in recent seasons.

In 2003, the Grey District Council considered strict regulations after riverside scraps over top whitebaiting positions on the Grey River and alleged threats of retaliation from Christchurch gang members.

Christchurch resident Darren Branson had experience of whitebaiter aggression two years ago when a hut he and his friend built on a South Westland river was burned down.

Branson was setting up a spot pre-season at the Waiatoto River, south of Haast.

"We must have upset some of the locals," he said. "The police were involved, but no-one was ever caught. I haven't been back since."

Compared to whitebaiters in Canterbury, whitebaiters in the West Coast were more competitive.

"They can make a lot of money and they get pretty stroppy if you take their spot."

Hokitika's Brent Robinson, whose family has owned two whitebaiting stands through three generations, said permanent stand-holders were not causing problems.

Most disputes arose around spaces that were not registered, he said.

"With registered sites, you are the only one that can fish there."

Non-registered sites, however, were"fair game" for fishermen.

Most residents and registered site owners were friendly and it was when people came from other rivers that tensions arose, Robinson said.

West Coast DOC spokesman Ian Gill said it had not made a prosecution this season for people breaking whitebaiting rules.

In Canterbury, whitebaiters have been at loggerheads with the Waimakariri District Council over access to the Ashley River.

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« Reply #15 on: April 03, 2009, 04:34:47 pm »

Whitebaiters say season was poor

By SANDRA COX - The Press | Wednesday, 08 November 2006

An hour fishing the Grey River yesterday netted Peter Negri and his family a good feed, but followed a mediocre whitebait season on the Coast.

Whitebaiters have been reflecting on the 10-week West Coast fishing season, which is shorter than the rest of the country to protect some species. It ends on Tuesday.

The season was marred by reports of violence. Last week, armed police arrested a man who fired pellets at competing whitebaiters near Westport.

Serving up four large patties, Negri said the best fishing had come right at the end of the season.

The whitebaiter, who likes his whitebait smothered in mint sauce, described the season as late starting, very average and not as good as last year.

"Until last weekend I'd only got about 20 pounds (9kg), which I'd got from being there most days it's been visible."

Strong runs since Thursday will see him end the season with about 90kg. After stocking the family freezer, he will give most to family and friends.

Greymouth's James Bromley agreed the best days of the season on the Grey River were late last week, around the full moon, when he got 45kg in two days.

"Last week was the best week, there was nothing beforehand. It has been an average season; last year was a real good one."

The director of whitebait wholesaler Westland Whitebait Ltd, Colin McKinney, said the season had been average.

He had flown 300kg of whitebait to North Island wholesalers each week.

The largest single catch he had heard of this season was 100kg. He refused to say where that was made.

Whitebaiters can be notoriously reluctant to reveal information about healthy catches. "They think if they say `we caught so much on this river' they'll be inundated by other fishermen. It's one of those clandestine things that's been like that for ever and a day," McKinney said.

There is no quota for whitebaiting. The Coast's largely unmodified habitat makes it the nation's largest whitebait fishery.

Chris Terreau, a whitebaiter at Mokihinui, 50km north of Westport, said the season had been poor but the bait ran for three days early last week.

Fishermen there had netted only half as much as last season and would end the season with up to 45kg each.

Jim Bushby, the president of the West Coast Whitebaiters Association, which has 400 members and works to preserve the fishery, said South Westland had been a write-off, like last season. "It has been memorable because there's been no whitebait. For weeks on end here the sea was rough and the rivers were dirty."

He had one report of a 90kg catch and the rest would be lucky to get a few kilos a day.

He had heard of a heap of "argy bargy" in Haast over the past fortnight. "There has been a lot of it this season coast-wide. It's because there's been no whitebait."

The Department of Conservation has not lodged fishing enforcement prosecutions this season, but was investigating five offences against regulations.

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« Reply #16 on: April 03, 2009, 04:35:08 pm »

Bay's whitebait a tale of two rivers

By HAYLEY GALE - The Nelson Mail | Saturday, 11 November 2006

SLIM PICKINGS: Whitebaiter Gail McKerr has caught hardly any fish because of “brown sludge” in the Motupipi River. HAYLEY GALE/The Nelson Mail.

SLIM PICKINGS: Whitebaiter Gail McKerr has caught hardly
any fish because of “brown sludge” in the Motupipi River.
— HAYLEY GALE/The Nelson Mail

Whitebaiters on Golden Bay's Aorere River have had a great season but those on the Motupipi River have expressed serious concern about pollution of the waterway.

Motupipi resident Gail McKerr, whose home borders the river, said the water was full of "filthy brown sludge", especially at high tide.

She and others had complained to the Tasman District Council to clean the river up before it became "totally devoid of fish".

A council-commissioned report carried out in June highlighted pollution "hotspots" where the concentration of faecal bacteria was "10 times the level considered safe for stock to drink".

The report does not identify the exact causes of the pollution, stating it could be "cumulative discharges from a number of properties", before pointing out that 700ha of the 1040ha catchment is used for livestock farming.

Fred Winter, who has lived in the area for 46 years, said the river was too dirty to see whitebait.

"This river used to be as clear as a bell and children swam here. Now, it's filthy. It's a bloody disgrace," he said.

A meeting of farmers, whitebaiters, residents and report author Trevor James will be held next month to discuss concerns.

Meanwhile, whitebait have been running well in the Aorere.

Collingwood Cafe proprietor John Donovan, who buys "truckloads" of the fish, said he had managed to buy all his whitebait supplies for the year in the first three weeks of the season.

"I was paying premium dollar — $100 a kilo in the first week. It's been a good season but it's not been a steady hit," he said.

On the best days, with the biggest tides, he'd heard whitebaiters were catching up to 28kg of whitebait in a day.

"But there have been bad days when the most people have caught was just half a kilo."

The Aorere River has always been popular with whitebaiters, who provide a boost to businesses in Collingwood at an otherwise quiet time of year.

Many whitebaiters stay at the Collingwood Motor Camp for up to two months if the season is going well.

Camp manager Bevan Langmuir said the season had been "very good", with up to 20 caravans booked by whitebaiters for the whole season.

Nelson's Bae Asomua, the last remaining whitebaiter staying at the motor camp, said the whitebait had been "good and clean" at the height of the season last month, and he'd "more than paid for my petrol money".

"But now it's all fizzled out and everyone's gone home. I'm heading back to Nelson."

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« Reply #17 on: April 03, 2009, 04:35:39 pm »

Whitebait rivers of money

The Press | Saturday, 18 November 2006

EXPENSIVE TASTES: Whitebait fanciers are swallowing high prices for the new season's delicacy. Its cost? About one-tenth the price of silver. The Press.

EXPENSIVE TASTES: Whitebait fanciers are swallowing
high prices for the new season's delicacy. Its cost?
About one-tenth the price of silver. — The Press

West Coast whitebaiting has always generated its share of conflict, but are the stakes getting higher? MATT PHILP reports.

Five days before the end of what has been a tempestuous whitebaiting season and the banks of the Grey River are deserted. The "rock squatters" have decamped, leaving behind them the detritus of 10 weeks of around-the-clock occupation — Steinlager tabs, plastic tarps and blankets, the odd ripped net stretched over slick rock like a withered ghost.

Heavy rain that overnight turned the Grey the colour and clarity of old stew has achieved what intimidation and disappointment couldn't — driven the hardest of the hardcore baiters to their beds.

It feels like a storm has blown itself out. Season-long reports of roughhouse behaviour on West Coast rivers came to a head in early November, when armed police surrounded a bach at Deadman's Creek, north of Westport, and arrested a man for firing shots at baiters.

When the "weapon" turned out to be an air-rifle, it underscored that there is also a healthy element of farce about this combative pursuit of what can, to non-believers, look like a translucent, beady-eyed worm.

A car parked near the mouth of the Grey with a net tied to its roof rack signals that not everyone has given up. At the bottom of the steep bank, Barry is perched on a rock, dipping his second net into the murk. Probably a futile exercise, he says, but it never hurts to have a go.

Barry, a 50-something Greymouth local, can see how some baiters take it too far.

"It's like gold fever," he says. "It gets you. I didn't used to whitebait; couldn't see the point. But you get a couple of pound in your net and it all changes. That's why some fight about it. That's why they sleep on their spots."

Westport policeman Greg Goessi suspects a simpler motivation is at work: financial gain. This season, Goessi has handled several thefts and vandalism cases as well as complaints from whitebaiters threatened with violence.

Whitebaiting on the Coast has always had its moments. Three years ago, huts south of Haast were burned down and there were reports of Christchurch gang members throwing their weight around on the Grey.

But the air-rifle incident, the culmination of an argument about whether Deadmans Creek could be fished, took things to a new low, as far as Goessi is concerned.

"We could have been dealing with a hunting rifle for all we knew. People have lost all perspective because there is so much money involved," he says.

The price of bait is every bit as volatile as some of those trying to catch it, but when it's scarce, it can retail for between $120 and $140 a kilogram.

Neville Cane, marketing manager of Christchurch-based Cascade Whitebait, the country's largest supplier, says: "Whitebait has become a treat, a special-occasion item. And everyone wants whitebait from the Coast, because it's a cleaner product, from cleaner rivers."

Those catching it might earn $60/kg — more if they're not paying tax — and on the best days the lucky ones could pull 100kg of whitebait out of their nets.

Whether many whitebaiters are making a killing is arguable. But plenty live in hope.

"People are taking holidays to go whitebaiting, coming here from Christchurch, Nelson, all over," says Goessi. "And because it's been a bit of a quiet year, tempers are fraying. ‘He's getting bait, and I'm not’."

Whitebaiters can be fiercely territorial about their spots, even in the absence of any real claim. There are 650-odd registered stands on the Coast, but they are only on some rivers. Most spots are taken on a first-up, best-dressed basis, and plenty of arguments flare over perceived customary rights.

"There's this attitude, among some, of ‘My grandparents fished here, so this is my piece of river’."

Goessi discerns a strong vein of anti-outsider sentiment in some of the aggro, exacerbated by some visitors' real or professed ignorance of both local custom and the idiosyncrasies of the official regulations for baiting on the Coast.

No-one wants to go on the record, but there is plenty of poaching going on, breaching the regulations. But whereas a quiet word in the ear might once have done the job, people are taking things a step further — again, because there is money involved. Goessi argues that the Department of Conservation, which is responsible for enforcing the regulations, isn't doing enough to try to keep a lid on tensions.

"It doesn't get policed to the extent it should on the Coast," he says. "As far as I'm concerned, I'd appreciate some assistance. I got home last night and there was another theft."

AGE-OLD PASSION: A whitebaiter on Kumara Beach near Greymouth on the West Coast. JOHN KIRK-ANDERSON/The Press.

AGE-OLD PASSION: A whitebaiter on Kumara
Beach near Greymouth on the West Coast.

Whitebaiting is as deep in the pores of West Coasters as rain and coal smoke. Whitebait is a gift, a staple at 21st-birthday parties and weddings, something to barter.

Goessi: "I know people who pay their debts with it. Some taverns take whitebait for the tab. It's used like a form of currency."

Black currency, you suspect. Inland Revenue is periodically required to reassure baiters that they can sell the odd bucket to a mate without being stung.

For any more substantial transaction, however, withholding tax should be deducted. But buyers who do things by the book routinely complain that they are in a minority. As one puts it, "You can walk into 80 per cent of the shops in Christchurch and they won't have receipts for the product."

Neville Cane, of Cascade Whitebait, argues that Inland Revenue needs to crack down.

"The fishermen are the ones making all the money. The people paying the tax and doing it all legally struggle."

Cane reckons that for some fishers, untaxed whitebaiting has become semi-professional — "a lifestyle, not a hobby".

The counter-argument to all this talk about whitebait fortunes and fighting is voiced by Colin McKinney, owner of Haast-based buyers Westland Whitebait.

"Nobody is making big money out of whitebait, and I mean nobody."

It is not that the whitebait have disappeared, he asserts.

"You hear old fellas saying ‘oh, we used to get a tonne a day’. But you have to remember that there were probably two or three nets on the river back then. I believe the sheer tonnage is still out there, but now there are 300 nets on the same river. The competition is just too great to have a show of making a living nowadays."

McKinney is similarly dismissive of the Deliverance-style mythology that has developed around whitebaiting on the coast.

"A guy came down one year on a four-wheeler with a rifle on the front of his bike to shoot rabbits, and next minute it was all over Haast — ‘they're carrying rifles to defend themselves on the river’. Maybe it's because it's such a clandestine thing, whitebaiting, but you always get these stories from the river."

Arguing against him is the fact that whitebaiting stands — semi-permanent structures driven into the riverbed, which guarantee fishers their spot — are changing hands on Trade Me and elsewhere for big money. According to local accounts, a spot close to the mouth on one of the better southern rivers could fetch $80,000-plus. The Press has heard of stand owners asking well into five figures for a bach plus whitebait stand, where the bach is very much a bonus throw-in.

Are the things overvalued? Greymouth real-estate agent and keen baiter Kevin O'Donnell says he knows some people making good money from whitebaiting.

"But you can spend a considerable amount of money and the season can be a complete washout. And that can happen three years in a row."

However, Jim Bushby, president of the West Coast Whitebaiters Association, which represents the majority of stand owners, says most quickly recoup their outlay.

"Last year, most would have covered the cost in a single season."

A whitebaiter since childhood holidays on Canterbury's Ashley River 50 years ago, Bushby says this season has been particularly fractious, partly because of the expectations raised by the 2005 bonanza. But he adds that conflict between baiters is age-old and stirred by more than money.

"People get whitebait fever. Nine months of the year they're lovely people, but get them down to the river ..."

Nevertheless, many of those crowding the riverbanks are drawn by the promise of a big payday.

"And it's when everybody is jammed up together that we seem to get most problems," Bushby says.

Grant Trenwith, field officer for the West Coast Regional Council, which administers the whitebait stands, says that stand owners can make for prickly neighbours. The minimum distance between two stands is supposed to be 40 metres.

"If Joe Whitebaiter is two metres closer than he should be, the tape measures will start to come out."

But in his experience, the tension is far worse between stand owners and a swelling tribe of pot and scoop netters working closer to the river mouths.

"Netters down the front are often used to living in each other's pockets, but they cop flak if they creep too close to the front stands. Stand owners see themselves as having invested heavily for their position on the river. To then have to watch their access to bait being threatened by the sheer numbers of netters down the front can prove too much."

As a result, and notwithstanding ongoing demand for the best-located stands, some stand owners are starting to weigh up the benefits of being tied to one spot.

Veteran Greymouth baiter Jim Findlay, whose in-laws have owned a stand on the Taramakau river for more than a century, prefers scoop netting in any case. Setting a net and leaving it for hours is "a lazy way of fishing and not the same thrill as catching a good shoal in a scoop net".

But it seems to him that "the scoopers at the front are also getting the bulk of the whitebait at the moment".

On the porch at his South Beach home, Findlay wears a contented smile despite what he describes as an average season. He got enough; the nets are already stowed in the shed for another year.

Findlay says greed is at the root of recent incidents. But by his own description, such is the almost Jane Austen-like complexity of riverside etiquette, it's easy to see how outsiders and novices might unwittingly give offence.

Different unspoken rules apply on different rivers — even, in some cases, on opposite banks of the same river.

On the Taramakau, for example: "On the north side, the idea is that one person will have a scoop for 50m, then he pulls out. But on the south, you have a continual chain, with everyone 40m apart."

And yet, says Findlay, serious incidents are still the exception. The river still largely looks after itself.

"There might be some words exchanged over whose turn it is, but generally we manage to sort it out between ourselves pretty quickly."

O'Donnell tends to agree: "If someone wants to make a prick of himself, tempers can get frayed. But on West Coast rivers, the atmosphere still tends to be pretty jovial. There is camaraderie. At night, people will still walk down to the next person's hut and have a few beers."

Others, however, believe that recent confrontations signal that the days of gentlemanly agreements and self-policing are probably over.

"The trouble is, we've got amateur regulations (for) what in some instances is a commercial fishery," says Jim Bushby.

Allowing more permanent stands is not an option and probably wouldn't soothe tensions anyway, he argues.

His association has lobbied DOC to put more officers on the rivers. But Bushby is also keen for the official season — traditionally shorter on the Coast than the rest of the country — to be lengthened, and he believes some kind of quota and licensing system may need to be considered.

Money collected could be used to enhance spawning habitats.

He is arguing for regulation, the heavy hand of the State. Surely, that's a double helping of anathema for West Coast whitebaiters?

"It would be a passing of something, true," he muses. "But one of our aims is to make sure whitebaiting will be around in 50 years time."

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« Reply #18 on: April 03, 2009, 04:36:41 pm »

Whitebaiters clash turns violent

By JOANNA NORRIS - The Press | Thursday, 30 November 2006

Tensions between whitebaiters flared out of control in North Canterbury this morning with one man being attacked by an iron bar.

An apparent turf war has resulted in a violent clash between two groups of whitebaiters at the mouth of the Ashley River where whitebaiters are fishing on the last day of the season.

Christchurch police inspector John Doherty said the dispute broke out about 10am over the location of a whitebaiting site.

One group had staked a claim to a piece of the riverbank, resulting in a fight with the other group.

It is understood at least one man was attacked with an iron bar.

One of the groups then lit a fire, fanning smoke over the other party.

Police rushed to the scene and are talking to some of the people allegedly involved. No one was seriously hurt during the fight.

The rivermouth has been the source of tension all season. Last month a Waikuku Beach family built a a small hut at the Waikuku Beach estuary claiming it had a cultural right to do so and prompting an investigation by Environment Canterbury.

There has also been tension over access to the rivermouth by whitebaiters, which has prompted heated debate in the community.

The Waimakariri District Council has been reviewing vehicle access to the beach after complaints about people flouting the rules which allow vehicle access to the river mouth only to launch or retrieve boats.

Many whitebaiters had been towing boats or taking inflatable boats to the beach.

Today's incident follows similar tensions on the West Coast.

Earlier in the season armed police were called to Deadman's Creek, 6km north of Westport, after reports that one group of whitebaiters had fired a gun at another group.

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« Reply #19 on: April 03, 2009, 04:38:02 pm »

Rare whitebait species found in Waikato

NZPA | Thursday, 15 March 2007

An increasingly rare breed of whitebait has been found at Taitua Arboretum and Hamilton City Council is working with the Conservation Department to ensure its preservation.

A population of giant kokopu, numbering between 15 and 20 adult fish, has been located in a lowland stream area of the arboretum.

A connecting spring appears to have enabled the species to prosper by maintaining its favoured lowland stream habitat, the council said.

Giant kokopu is a threatened species across New Zealand and the rarest of the six whitebait species.

DOC spokesman Michael Lake said today the find at Taitua was significant because the kokopu might be landlocked from the sea.

Mr Lake said the protected Taitua environment had been the key factor in the giant kokopu population's ability to thrive.

The council's parks and gardens manager Bill Featherstone said council would work with DOC to ensure that the giant kokopu population continued to thrive.

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« Reply #20 on: April 03, 2009, 04:38:24 pm »

More tench, more tension as threat rises for whitebait

By DAN HUTCHINSON in BLENHEIM - The Press | Thursday, 03 May 2007

Marlborough's whitebait fishery may be under threat from environmental vandals who are thought to be behind the release of pest fish in the region.

The Marlborough District Council is warning it will take a zero-tolerance approach to anyone releasing unwanted fish after finding a second infestation of tench at the popular Taylor Dam above Blenheim.

Councillor Gerald Hope said the dam would be closed to the public for the second time in the past few years for a poisoning operation to get rid of the pest fish. The dam would be closed from 07 May for up to six weeks while the natural fish poison, Cube Root Powder, was put in the dam lake.

He said the Department of Conservation and the council suspected the fish had been deliberately released by people wanting to establish a tench sport fishing population.

Tench would compete with native fish and trout for food and were capable of laying up to one million eggs. Hope said the pest fish could affect native fish and impact on the trout and whitebait fishery in the Opawa and Wairau rivers. Moving fish and other aquatic species between waterways without authority risked spreading organisms that could cause serious environmental damage, Hope said.

Environmental officer Peter Hamill said eels and other native fish would be removed from the dam before poisoning.

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« Reply #21 on: April 03, 2009, 04:46:36 pm »

New floodgate designed to help whitebait

By WAYNE TIMMO - Waikato Times | Tuesday, 05 June 2007

SPECIAL GATE: Kelly Hughes demonstrates the floodgate designed for small fish. BRUCE MERCER/Waikato Times.

SPECIAL GATE: Kelly Hughes demonstrates the floodgate
designed for small fish. — BRUCE MERCER/Waikato Times

A new floodgate designed to let fish through while still protecting coastal farmland could mean more whitebait in regional waterways.

Environment Waikato's environmental manager David Speirs said the gate had the potential to increase biodiversity in river catchments by allowing limited tidal flows through.

As an example the native inanga could spawn in riverside grasses producing whitebait.

"In the Waikato River the whitebait fishery has declined from 100 tonnes to one tonne. Part of that is that the habitat is not there now," said Mr Speirs.

Three prototype gates, built by Opotiki engineer Kelly Hughes and Environment Bay of Plenty but paid for by Environment Waikato, are ready for testing in Waikato river catchments.

It is hoped they will attract the eye of other councils or national funders to develop a commercially viable version.

Mr Hughes said examples in the US designed to let salmon through were much larger, did not reset themselves and cost around $100,000 each.

Mr Hughes' version cost $1500-$2000 and $1000 to install.

"It was a bit of Kiwi blokes in the shed," Mr Hughes said. "There's no specialist machining involved in it."

The final design had been based on an Australian version with modifications for local conditions.

A ballcock floating on the water raises an arm, which lowers the gate as the flow rises. The mechanism can be fitted to existing flood gates in the field.

Mr Speirs said the design would be tested at a handful of sites around the region to see how they work in a range of conditions.

He hoped that if successful they could be installed as existing floodgates are replaced to avoid extra costs on ratepayers. Gates in new areas would be paid for through the general rate or specific grants.

The Waikato contains 200 floodgates, most of which see little water for much of the time. Mr Speirs said the gate would be suitable for about 20 sites around the Waikato, including about 10 on the lower Waikato River.

Not all areas would be suitable, particularly flat land like the lower Piako River catchment.

"People who farm on land behind floodgates are very vulnerable and they need to be confident that it's going to work."

Mr Speirs said allowing tidal water into drains in a controlled way could also benefit farmers by helping flush water out and by killing freshwater plants that caused blockages.

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« Reply #22 on: April 03, 2009, 04:47:03 pm »

Move to give whitebaiters river access

The Press | Saturday, 28 July 2007

Environment Canterbury (ECan) has moved quickly to prevent problems with access for whitebaiters to the Ashley River mouth.

It has decided a dedicated and signposted route, which has minimum impact on the Coastal Marine Area as defined in its Regional Coastal Environment Plan, will provide an interim solution to access issues.

It has approved a $5000 budget to establish and advertise the route.

The decision follows ECan staff working with agencies and a formally constituted group to develop solutions on issues in the northern Pegasus Bay area.

The Waimakariri District Council has also indicated it will change its district plan to allow access through the area over a marked and signed route.

ECan decided continuing to ban vehicles travelling through the Coastal Marine Area would exacerbate conflicts in the area and be of no environmental benefit with vehicles going there anyway and damaging the environment.

Possible changes to the plan are being examined to provide a longer term solution.

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« Reply #23 on: April 03, 2009, 04:47:26 pm »

Whitebaiters warned: Play the game

By YVETTE BATTEN - Taranaki Daily News | Friday, 03 August 2007

Out-of-season whitebaiters are being netted by vigilant DOC officers.

The official start to the annual hunt for the delicacy is not until August 15 but several whitebaiters have already been spoken to for jumping the gun, especially on the Waitara River.

"We have had ongoing problems in Taranaki with people fishing prior to and after the season," DOC programme manager biodiversity Bryan Williams said.

Offenders face a fine of $5000.

Last year, whitebait were abundant in Taranaki so Mr Williams predicts this season will be average.

"I don't think it will be on par with last year but I'd like to think I was wrong."

He believes fishing will be better downstream than upstream in large rivers because of the recent rain.

Whitebait struggle to get far up rain-swollen the rivers.

Whitebaiting is allowed between 5am and 8pm from the start of the season and 6am to 9pm during daylight savings until November 30.

"Anyone contemplating going out to catch whitebait should certainly make the time to become familiar with the rules," Mr Williams says.

Illegal equipment, or equipment illegally set, will be sized and people caught breaking the regulations may be prosecuted.

DOC officers will continue carrying out patrols of the fishing areas during the whitebait season.

More information about whitebaiting regulations is available at any DOC office.

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« Reply #24 on: April 03, 2009, 04:47:54 pm »

Whitebaiters prepare for new season

By PHIL MCCARTHY - The Southland Times | Friday, 10 August 2007

NET PROFIT: Southern Net Service owner William Boniface (right) and Bill van der Schuit are flat out repairing old nets and making new ones for the whitebaiting season, which starts on Wednesday. JOHN HAWKINS/The Southland Times.

NET PROFIT: Southern Net Service owner William Boniface (right) and
Bill van der Schuit are flat out repairing old nets and making new ones
for the whitebaiting season, which starts on Wednesday.
— JOHN HAWKINS/The Southland Times

Can you feel it? The tension in the air is palpable as whitebaiters throughout the south start to fantasise about serenading their tastebuds with the delicacy when the annual season starts on Wednesday.

Actually, it's the calm before the storm at the moment as canny 'baiters size up their favourite possies on rivers such as the Aparima and Mataura in Southland or further north on the likes of the Taieri and secret spots in Central Otago.

Southern Net Service owner William Boniface said that as usual he was flat out with people servicing their nets at the last minute.

"It drives me nuts." A large part of his work involved selling new gear, but he did repairs for whitebaiters throughout the country. He was one of just two specialist repairers in the South Island, he said.

The other specialist repairer was in Amberley in North Canterbury.

Mr Boniface, who fishes on the Titiroa Stream and the Mataura, said there had been reports of a few dribbles of whitebait in southern waters in the past few weeks.

Southland Whitebaiters Association president Graham Gough said all the usual keen people would be hoping that high winds stayed away so that fishing conditions would be good.

The Agriculture and Forestry Ministry is urging whitebaiters to "check, clean and dry" their equipment to protect waterways from didymo.

Ministry spokesman Jeff Donaldson said all waterways should be treated as if they were infected with the non-indigenous alga.

MAF recommends that nets and other absorbent materials be decontaminated by soaking them in a 5 percent solution of dishwashing liquid or nappy cleaner until thoroughly saturated.

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