16 Nov 2009

Call for tighter whitebaiting rules

10:59 pm on 16 November 2009

The West Coast Whitebaiters' Association wants the Government to tighten the rules on selling whitebait after an average season forced some to flout the law.

Association president Jim Bushby says anyone can catch and sell whitebait and some people are breaking the law by using more than one whitebait net at a time.

Mr Bushby says this has caused friction between fishers as Department of Conservation staff fail to police it.

The association is calling on the Government to only allow licensed commerical fishers to sell whitebait.

Mr Busby says it wants pot netters to be given a licence and issued with an identification tag which is put into the net.

"There'd be one man, one net. If DOC go down the river and they find nets without a licence tag, they should be able to confiscate them."

The association believes Department of Conservation staff should be better resourced with batons or pepper spray.

However, the department says it has not been scared off policing rivers for illegal whitebaiting.

South Westland area compliance manager Patrick Dennehy says staff patrolled the area more this season, with prosecutions up 30% on last year.

Mr Dennehy says offenders are usually good to deal with, and there is no need for extra security measures.

The whitebaiting season on the West Coast closed at the weekend.