Forest and Bird calls for a halt to commercial whitebaiting


Conservationists have called for an end to commercial whitebaiting as the season gets underway, saying four of the five native whitebait species are in danger of extinction.

The whitebaiting season runs from today until November 30, except on the West Coast of the South Island where it runs from September 1 to November 14.

Forest & Bird’s Freshwater Advocate Annabeth Cohen says ending the sale of whitebait would help alleviate the pressure on the struggling native fishes.

“Until whitebait and their habitats are thriving, it makes no sense to allow companies to sell these fish for a profit, especially when four out of five of the species are at risk of disappearing forever,” Ms Cohen said.

“We also need better controls on recreational whitebait catches. Most people don’t know there isn't a catch limit for native freshwater fish," she said.

Ms Cohen says it's time for regional councils and central government to take action on protecting and restoring wetlands and rivers, ending commercial catches, improving water quality, and putting recreational catch limits in place.

“Regulation isn’t doing much to protect whitebait. Currently, it is illegal to sell trout but not whitebait. Native fish aren’t even protected under the Wildlife Act. 

"New Zealand’s freshwater fish deserve better," she said.

“Whitebait used to be so plentiful they were caught by the truck-load and used for fertiliser on farms. When we have returned whitebait back to these population levels, we’ll know we’ve done a good job of caring for our native freshwater fish, and their rivers."

Kōaro, shortjawed kōkopu, banded kōkopu, giant kōkopu and inanga are the fish that make up the whitebait catch, Ms Cohen said. 

They are classified by the Department of Conservation as either threatened or declining, except the banded kōkopu. 

They are just five of the dozens of fish species that migrate between fresh water and sea water here every year, she said.

Department of Conservation freshwater scientist Jane Goodman told the NZ Herald habitat degradation is one of the key causes of declining whitebait populations.

"We encourage people to get in behind local initiatives to restore spawning and adult whitebait habitat and to reduce their impact on our freshwater environment," she said.

People who see overhanging culverts or other barriers that stop whitebait moving upstream should contact their local DOC or regional council office.

DOC will be patrolling whitebaiting sites and talking to whitebaiters to ensure people are complying with the regulations, Ms Goodman said.

Annabeth Cohen told TVNZ1’s Breakfast that if steps aren’t taken the fish could disappear very soon. Source: Breakfast



Over 20 vehicles vandalised overnight in suburb on Auckland's North Shore

More than 20 vehicles have been damaged overnight in an area on Auckland's, North Shore.

Police say a number of vehicles' tyres have been vandalised in Birkdale's, Tiri Tiri Road and Woodhams Street area.

Anyone who has had their car damaged is urged to report it to police if they haven't already done so.

Police are making area enquiries and conducting scene and forensic examinations and are interested to hear from anyone who may have information.


John Healy says people drastically underestimate the risks of leaving kids or pets in their car.
Source: 1 NEWS


Vodafone's 'unlimited' mobile plan comes under Commerce Commission scrutiny

The Commerce Commission has started an investigation into Vodafone's "unlimited" mobile plan launched in July which has a number of restrictions listed on the plan's promo page.

The NZ Herald reports the question is whether the "limited" factors are sufficiently prominent. 

The news outlet's online report says the ComCom refused any comment while its investigation was open.

The restrictions are listed on Vodafone's Unlimited Mobile promo page, but only after you click a link labelled "Important things to know".

Vodafone's "Unlimited Mobile" plan is $79.99 a month and NZ Herald says like "unlimited" plans launched earlier by rivals Spark and 2degrees, it has a number of limits.

These include speed being reduced from 4G to 3G if a customer downloads more than 22GB of mobile data within a month, and streaming video restricted to standard definition.

A spokeswoman for Vodafone said the company is "working through the details with the Commission and will co-operate fully with their investigation".

The regulator last month laid 10 charges against Vodafone under the Fair Trading Act for billing beyond the date of some customers' notice period.

In another legal action, the commission is targeting Vodafone's Fibre X marketing campaign.

More companies have gone into streamlining health and safety features such as picking up your arrival using  your phone and printing out your name tag ready to go when you arrive.
Source: 1 NEWS

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Watch: 'We need to fix the bloody road' – MPs engage in heated exchange over deadly stretch of highway into Tauranga

A heated debate in Parliament over a stretch of road near Tauranga ended with the Transport Minister being asked to commit to driving the road himself. 

State Highway 2 between Katikati and Tauranga has seen numerous serious crashes and deaths.

In the last six years to March 2018, 21 people have been killed on the 37-kilometre stretch of road between Katikati and Tauranga.

In Question Time today, National MP Jami-Lee Ross asked Mr Twyford: "Why did he make the funding decision to reduce the State highway improvement budget... a project that would have saved lives on a stretch of road that has seen 86 serious and death crashes in the recent past years?"

Mr Twyford rejected that he made the decision, and said he agreed "with the people of Tauranga that we need to fix the bloody road, the number of crashes is unacceptable".

"We are investing $65 million right now on State Highway 2 between Waihī and Ōmokoroa to make this stretch of road safer."

Hundreds of campaigners marched across Wairoa Bridge today. Source: 1 NEWS

It comes after protesters blocked part of the road in Tauranga on the weekend, calling for major safety upgrades. 

Bay of Plenty MP Todd Muller asked the Minister to commit to driving from Ōmokoroa to Tauranga, "to experience first-hand that road, like my constituents do every day?"

"I can't commit to that," Mr Twyford said. "Because I am busy making sure that the Transport Agency... gets on with re-evaluating that project so that we can make the safety improvements on that highway that that Government failed to do over nine years and has spent the last nine months scaremongering about."

$100 million will be spent on safety between Waihi and Omokoroa, but protesters say a four-lane highway must be built.

The Transport Minister agreed it needs to be fixed, as National’s Todd Muller challenged the Minister "to experience the road first-hand". Source: 1 NEWS


'Some links to the Mongrel Mob' – seven charged after BOP police sting sees guns, Hilux vehicles, $21k cash, drugs seized

Police have arrested and charged seven people after executing a number of search warrants in the eastern Bay of Plenty as part of Operation Notus II.

Speaking to media today Senior Sergeant Richard Miller said the operation had "some links to the Mongrel Mob".

Operation Notus II is the second phase of a long-running investigation, led by the National Organised Crime Group, into organised crime and the supply and supplying of methamphetamine and cannabis in the eastern Bay of Plenty region.

Acting Eastern Bay of Plenty Area Commander, Senior Sergeant Richard Miller briefed media today. Source: 1 NEWS

Search warrants were conducted this morning in properties in Kawerau, Whakatāne and Te Teko.

The seven are facing a number of charges, including possession for supply, and supplying, methamphetamine and cannabis, as well as firearms-related offending.

They will appear in Whakatāne District Court this afternoon.

Along with methamphetamine and cannabis, 26 firearms and more than $21,000 in cash has been seized.

Three stolen Toyota Hilux utes were recovered from one address in Kawerau, along with a number of power tools.

A stolen Toyota Hilux Surf and trailer were recovered from another address.

Operation Notus, launched in October 2017, revealed the Kawerau Mongrel Mob's involvement in the commercial distribution of meth and cannabis to the community.

As a result of the investigation, 48 people were arrested and almost $3 million in assets were frozen in March 2018.

Acting Eastern Bay of Plenty Area Commander, Senior Sergeant Richard Miller, said, "This was a major disruption to organised crime and methamphetamine supply in EBOP".

Guns seized during Operation Notus II in the Eastern Bay of Plenty
Guns seized during Operation Notus II in the Eastern Bay of Plenty Source: NZ Police