Warning that NZ's precious whitebait and long-fin eel stocks could be gone by 2050

When Kiwi fisherman Trent Robertson heard that the species of fish which was key to his livelihood was endangered, he retorted "there's plenty of them".

The fourth generation fisherman spends most of his days out on the river catching short and long-finned eels for export. An average haul a week is 300kg.

"A day of 100 to 150 kilograms is a good day, some days more, some days less," he said.

The whitebait season has kicked off, and with it comes a warning the delicacy is in decline. Source: Seven Sharp

He told Seven Sharp he loves eels, and occasionally bunked school to take lessons "on the river".

But Forest and Bird specialists paint a different story to Mr Robertson's perception that stocks were plentiful.

New research suggests that long and short-fin eels, and whitebait stocks, could be all gone by 2050 because of water quality and commercial over-fishing.

Mr Robertson doesn't agree with that analysis, telling Seven Sharp "nah, there's plenty of them".

Bird and Forest specialist Al Fleming however said numbers were declining, and that there needed to be a ban on the take of all long-fin tuna so they could recover.

He also said whitebait was actually the juveniles of five different fish - four of which were under threat due to water quality and over-fishing.

"What will happen is whitebaiters will see a slow decline and all of a sudden, they'll be gone," Mr Fleming said.

"Whitebait and long-fin eel are as Kiwi as our flightless parrot the Kakapo... people would be very concerned at the commercial sale of the Kakapo for the purpose of eating.

"So, we should not do that for our endangered freshwater fish."

Mr Robertson, who is also a whitebaiter, insisted there was only one number that was changing.

"The catches might be going down, but divide-up between however many people fishing it hasn't gone down," he said.

"Back in the day there used to be 10 people doing it, now there's 100... they're all still getting a feed or more."

In 1990, 20 per cent of 40 native New Zealand fishes were endangered, according to statistics obtained by Seven Sharp.

Now, around 75 per cent are in danger.

'The voices of children have to be taken seriously'

The Children’s Commissioner, Judge Andrew Becroft, on the new Ministry for Vulnerable Children. Source: Breakfast



Maori parents not getting cot death advice - researchers

Families most at risk of losing a child to cot death may not be receiving the health advice they need.

A report in the New Zealand Medical Journal says an unconscious bias might be to blame for Maori parents not receiving sleep safe information when engaging with health care services.

Maori babies are five times more likely to die of Sudden Unexpected Death in Infancy than non-Maori babies, but less than half of Maori families are being given the safe sleep advice, University of Auckland researchers found.

"Research with Maori and Pakeha GPs shows some Pakeha GPs find it harder to communicate with Maori patients and Maori are less comfortable, trusting and forthcoming in their interactions with Pakeha GPs," Carla Houkamau's report found.

They found some health providers may harbour old stereotypes that inhibit their ability to connect effectively with young Maori mothers and as a result that may cause them to withdraw from engagement services.

Only 43 per cent of Maori babies received their first five core contacts, compared with an average 57.7 per cent for all babies.

And of those only 48 per cent received the safe sleeping information.

"Typically, when there is some kind of health inequity experienced by Maori this is attributed to lower socio-economic status, poor access to healthcare services or poorer service uptake on the part of Maori," Dr Houkamau said.

"However, we believe the possibility of unconscious bias towards Maori on the part of health care providers should be considered."

Dr Houkamau said health providers need to be educated about subtle and unconscious bias and how that can affect their dealings with Maori patients.

"Although having a greater awareness of bias will not automatically eliminate it, awareness of the issues is certainly needed to open up discussion and promote understanding," she said.

Pepi-Pod- cot to reduce sudden infant death. Source: 1 NEWS