THE raised hands at the whitebait management public consultation meeting in Invercargill last week showed disdain at proposed changes.
When one attendee asked the crowd how many people believed there was no need to make any amendments, the majority raised their hands in support.
In 2018, the Department of Conservation (Doc) began a review of the system to help restore the whitebait population nation-wide.
From this, options for change were proposed for fishing practices, season dates, upstream fishing limits, for refuges to be introduced, and international exporting phased out.
About 200 recreational and commercial whitebaiters, along with several interested community members, attended the discussion session at Invercargill Workingmen’s Club.
Doc fresh water technical adviser Jane Goodman, who led the presentation, said the proposed options for change were a “starting point” for the process.
“The feedback you give us using local knowledge of your rivers and the fish species in them, and the intricacies of your whitebait fisheries and where you fish will help us achieve the best outcome.”
However, many voiced their concerns over whether their advice would be listened to.
said there was no point in making a submission because Doc “have already made up their mind” about the changes.
While some questions from the audience were answered, it was recommended attendees make a submission on the proposed changes.
“This is the point of this [consultation]. If enough people share the same view as you, it will be listened to.”
Online and written submissions would close at 9am on Monday, March 2.
Doc would then present its recommendations to Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage who would take them to Cabinet.
Ms Goodman could not confirm how long the process would take but would keep the public informed, she said.