April 17, 2014
Waikato-Tainui tends the whitebait
Waikato Tainui and marae in the lower reaches of the Waikato River are working with the regional council and other agencies to improve management of whitebait fisheries at Port Waikato.
Te Arataura tribal executive chair Rahui Papa says the river is home to some of the tribe’s most precious fisheries.
The Waikato River Authority, which includes iwi and council representatives, has set aside $1.5 million over the next five years for restoration of habitat that supports whitebait.
A new report by the iw and the council has identified traditional whitebait stands and the problems associated with them, such as over-fishing, the building of more baches and illegal sewage discharges.
As a result there is likely to be more emphasis on compliance over the next season, including checking for sewage discharges, assessing the condition of stands and associated structures and making sure they are not built too close together.
Regional council chair Paula Southgate says the initial focus will be on talking to people about any activity or structure which appears dangerous, unsafe or unsanitary.
The survey identified 870 whitebait stands in the area, almost half of them unregistered, and many of them not complying with the rules on maximum size and minimum distance from other stands.
The survey has also identified seven waahi tapu, three whitebait spawning grounds and about 40 kilometres of actively used customary Maori fishing areas alongside the riverbank where stands may or may not be present.
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