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Sustaining a debate

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OPINION: Driving my children to school on Thursday this week a few cars were parked at a small bridge. They were there this time last year as well.

Thursday was the start of whitebait season. The cars belonged people netting their catch from a stream that leads from Opotonui River to the mouth of the Whangapoua Harbour. I don't know the size of their daily take, but if you listened to reports this week the very essence of our Kiwi way of life is under threat. There are petitions and public meetings and utter outrage at the proposed Indigenous Freshwater Fish Amendment Bill, that would amend our Conservation Act.

National says it will ban whitebaiting, the Government says that's rubbish. Exactly where it will land is anyone's guess. But, like many industries in New Zealand, a lot of whitebaiting is no longer about catching enough fry to make a few fritters for the family. It's an industry and many are catching them for commercial gain. It's no longer sustainable. It needs to be managed. There should be a quota system. It is the only fishery in New Zealand that doesn't have one.

The thing is, it's very easy to point the finger at "greedy whitebaiters". But those doing the pointing have probably bought the odd fritter or pound or two themselves. And most of those catching them have probably had their days where they know they have caught more than their fill.

* Fishing Report: Lots of berley is enticing the fish
* Fishery closure along 140km of Kaikōura coastline extended
* New Zealand's most controversial fishery deemed sustainable by global body
* Angling for a blue tick: the fishing sustainability........

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