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The secret to perfect whitebait fritters

Friday, 2 September 2011 12:46 p.m.

Sustainable whitebait fritters ingredients:

1 cup of fresh whitebait (never frozen)
3 eggs
Pinch of salt and pepper
400m electric fencing

Method:
1. Erect fencing along the banks of any tidal stream mouth
2. Allow grass to grow long (especially April-May)
3. Enjoy good whitebaiting ground for years to come.

Measuring whitebait caught by the kerosene can is a distant memory. A cupful seems to be a good day out now.

Overfishing? Pollution?  While these are likely candidates and can't be ruled out entirely, the major cause of the decline is loss of breeding habitat. 

Bay of Plenty Regional Council Land Management Officer Braden Rowson says whitebait are fussy breeders and need grassy stream banks to successfully spawn. 

"Despite being quite prolific and promiscuous - one female can lay up to 100,000 eggs - they only lay their eggs in certain areas of streams," Mr Rowson said. 

"The best spot is the tidal zone where rivers and streams meet the sea or estuary.

"Simply fencing stock off banks at stream mouths helps a whitebait fishery's health.

"If you search closely among the grassy banks where salt and fresh water mix during April or May you might just be lucky enough to find whitebait eggs," Mr Rowson said.

If you have a stream on your property that fits this description and would like to learn more you can contact your local Regional Council Land Management Officer 0800 884 880 for advice or assistance.

Ends

Caption: 

The long grass and native rushes of this Tuapiro paddock are perfect habitat for whitebait breeding.

Click here to download a high resolution image.

For further media information contact Yvonne Rooney, Senior Communications Advisor, 0800 884 881 extn 9379 or 021 289 8380. 

Whitebait habitat lowres