[15 August/Stuff]

As the New Zealand whitebait season starts, there is growing concern about stock levels. Conservation advocacy groups renewed warnings about the low state of whitebait stocks and renewed pleas for a ban on commercial whitebaiting. A report by the Department of Conservation revealed that at least three of the five native species were under threat. Forest & Bird called for a ban on commercial whitebaiting. Conservation Minister, Eugenie Sage, said that DOC had initiated work on issues affecting whitebaiting and what measures would help increase their numbers, improve their management, and ensure healthy whitebait populations. Whitebaiters in Timaru planned to make the most of the season with its recent opening. The whitebait season will end on 30 November in most areas on New Zealand. DOC Ranger, Steve Harraway, said they would be out during the season and paying attention to the Opihi and Orari Rivers.