Why is this important?
It is inexcusable that we allow a native threatened species to be commercially harvested and sold locally and exported. While commercial harvesting of whitebait species is not the biggest threat to their decline (declines in habitat quality are) it is an extra pressure on the species that we can easily stop.
Furthermore, It is hypocritical to allow this to continue when we are signatories to the global ban on trade in endangered species (CITIES).
Whitebait are the juveniles of five different New Zealand native freshwater fish species in the Galaxiidae family, mostly found only in New Zealand. They are: īnanga, kōaro, banded kōkopu, giant kōkopu and shortjaw kōkopu. Four of these five species (all except banded kokopu) have been classified by the Department of Conservation (DOC) in 2013 as at risk or threatened with extinction (http://www.doc.govt.nz/documents/science-and-technical/nztcs7entire.pdf ). That means they have the same threat ranking as some species of kiwi; selling whitebait is like selling kiwi. New Zealanders are often against other countries decimating or hunting their native wildlife, but we allow it right here in our own country.
White-baiting has a long history in New Zealand, and we want our children, grandchildren and further future generations to enjoy this past-time. Sadly, with the way things are going, these fish will be gone before most of our grandchildren will even be able to see them. Find out more about whitebait here – http://www.riverscapes.co.nz/uploads/2/9/4/7/29477677/use_me.pdf
Maggie, we hope that you can join us in helping to conserve these wonderful species. Stopping the commercial fishing and sale of whitebait would help in working towards conserving these species so people can continue to enjoy them for generations to come.
To sign this permission go to