Confusion reigns over Covid-19 alert level whitebaiting rules

Mixed messages from government departments is causing confusion among whitebaiters about whether they are allowed to fish.

Department of Conservation (DOC) media and communications manager Bronwyn Saunders told the Whakatane Beacon that whitebaiting was not permitted under alert level 4, while police appear to have given it their blessing. …

“As the government health orders are focused around encouraging people to stay home, and only leave for essential food shopping and healthcare, and that any exercise needs to local and low risk, it is clear that whitebaiting is not permissible,” Saunders said. …

The DOC website also lists whitebaiting as one of the activities that is not allowed under alert level 3 yet it is listed on the government’s Covid-19 website as a permitted activity at this level. …

According to police, whitebaiters are not breaking any rules.

Senior Sergeant Al Fenwick said the best information police had was that whitebaiting, or food gathering in a safe manner, was above board. He said police were taking a commonsense approach to the activity.

As long as there were no bubbles breached, people were staying close to home, not travelling to participate in whitebaiting and were keeping safe on land — the activity was permitted.

This would continue to be their approach, although he warned that could change. …

“If members of the public are concerned that someone is not following the rules, breaches can be reported to the Covid-19 Compliance Centre through covid19.govt.nz and dealt with accordingly.” …

On the government’s Covid-19 website, people are asked not to go swimming, surfing, boating, hunting or do any other outdoor activities at alert level 4 where they could get injured or lost. Whitebaiting or other land-based fishing is not specifically mentioned.

The website does say whitebaiting is permitted during alert level 3.

At this level, fishers are asked to fish locally, stay two metres from other river users and not to use motorised vehicles to get to their fishing spot.

They legally must also comply with all current whitebait regulations, including only fishing from the bank of rivers or the water’s edge, not entering the water and not using a boat to fish.

Source Confusion reigns over Covid-19 alert level whitebaiting rules | RNZ News.
By Diane McCarthy and Hazel Osborne, Whakatāne Beacon emergency services reporter

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