Surprise as update to rules allows whitebaiting under level 4

Whitebaiters are delighted to learn they can now go out fishing during alert level 4, without a customary rights permit, following a clarification to the rules.

The whitebating season began for most of the country on August 15, but with Covid-19 lockdown restrictions kicking in on August 17 there has been confusion around whether people are still allowed to fish for the delicacy.

On Friday, Department of Conservation (DOC) health safety director Harry Maher told Stuff “whitebaiting or fishing is not permitted generally under alert level 4”, but there was an exemption for Māori customary rights fishing.

Those with an exemption could leave their home or place of residence to exercise customary rights to fishing or food gathering.

According to the website, people could now go whitebaiting under level 4 as long as they fished locally, stayed 2 metres from other river users and did not use motorised vehicles to get to a fishing spot.

Whitebaiters must also fish from the banks of rivers or the water’s edge, and not enter the water.

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