Emotion and outrage from West Coasters over proposed new law some say could spell the end of whitebaiting

West Coasters have expressed outrage in Hokitika over proposals to change the management of whitebait.

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They are worried a new bill going through Parliament could spell the end of a Kiwi tradition. Source: 1 NEWS

The Indigenous Freshwater Fish Amendment Bill is currently going through Parliament, which some worry could eventually spell the end of whitebaiting in New Zealand.

The bill aims to give better protection to native species, and West coast MP Damien O'Connor did his best at a meeting to allay whitebaiters' fears.

"We're not looking at closing it down - we're looking at better management of it," Mr O'Connor said.

But locals, including Karamea whitebaiter Kelly Dooley, were not satisfied.

"If they take it off us it's disgusting - it's disgusting of the Government," Mr Dooley said.

"I want it for my grandchildren."

He also told the packed meeting, and Mr O'Connor that "the Government s**** on the West Coast no matter what we do."

The National Party has said it will oppose the bill, as it claims eventually whitebaiting will be prohibited and only allowed with special authorisation.

Environment Minister Eugenie Sage said that "I think some in the opposition are mischief making trying to muddy the waters.

"What we want is improved tools for better management of the fishery."