23 Jan 2010

Claims of poaching, intimidation by whitebaiters

4:03 pm on 23 January 2010

Whitebaiters on the West Coast of the South Island are preparing to meet Government officials to discuss possible rule changes after a season marred by threats of intimidation and claims of illegal fishing.

The West Coast Whitebaiters Association wants tighter controls on the sale of whitebait, after claims of poaching before the season started, and some fishers using more than one net to boost their catch.

The association has also called for DoC staff to be equipped with batons and pepper spray to counter intimidation from some whitebaiters.

The association is holding its own meeting in Hokitika on Saturday to finalise its position on concerns about how the season is managed.

Associate Conservation Minister Kate Wilkinson will hold a public meeting in Greymouth's Regent Theatre on Thursday morning to discuss possible rule changes.