“WHITEBAIT” Sept 29, 2012 18:25:52 GMT 10
Post by Deleted on Sept 29, 2012 18:25:52 GMT 10
Juggling running whitebait and a tsunami
By PETER O'NEILL - The Timaru Herald | Tuesday, 06 October 2009
WHEN WE heard of last Wednesday's tsunami the first thing we did was head for the beach.
To be fair, we were going anyway. The family was on a whitebaiting holiday in Kakanui.
Lovely spot by the way.
The camping ground owner provided the initial warning. Allan's a member of the volunteer fire brigade. He poked his head in the caravan door.
"There's been an earthquake near Samoa, and a tsunami's heading this way. Supposed to reach us around 11.30. About a metre high."
(Notice he said tsunami. There are no such things as tidal waves any more).
Being a semi-educated person I looked around the campsite for signs of a tsunami. The dogs were lying in the sun. Birds were chirping. No elephants were headed inland.
So we finished breakfast and headed for the rivermouth.
"What's a metre," I said to my wife, indicating a line just under my knee. "They'll just be playing it safe. Bet it will come to nothing."
She gave me one of THOSE looks. When we got to the mouth some people were heading swiftly for their vehicles. I use the word "swiftly" generously. They were aged about 90.
"There's a tsunami coming," he delighted in telling us as he tripped on a small stone.
"You'd better hurry then, you've only got 90 minutes," I said under my breath as I unpacked the nets.
At this point I noticed something far more important than elderly people picking themselves off the beach or impending large bodies of water.
People standing in the surf were regularly tipping stuff into their buckets. Whitebait!
There is an underlying excitement when whitebait are running. People catching it can't get their nets back into the water quickly enough, but try to look nonchalant as they do it.
"Me? Excited? Nooo." Splash. Splash.
Something happens also in these situations to people who have just arrived and have to set up their nets. Keeping one eye on those "not" lifting at a frantic pace they clout each other on the head as they "calmly" unload their nets and handles. Wingnuts disappear into a mass of like-coloured stones. There is some cursing.
By the time you get to the water and have had your first couple of scoops you wonder what all the fuss was about.
Back to the tsunami.
There is another chap wandering the beach. He has a radio. He's young, about 70. He says they've downgraded the warnings. He reckons he knew all along that they would.
"Just covering their butts," he says.
I like this man. Whitebait are just beginning to find their way into our nets when the civil defence siren sounds from town. I know exactly what it is, but ask my wife anyway "what's that, lunchtime?".
"Didn't go off yesterday," she replied, matter-of-factly. Besides, it's only 11 o'clock. Whatever logic I was going to produce next was overtaken by a fellow whitebaiter who streaked past us to his vehicle. He was nearly running.
"Oh great," I thought, as the predictable herd-like mentality took over and everyone else cleared the beach.
Pretty soon we are the only ones in the surf. "We should go," my wife says.
No matter that the wave is only a metre; that it's now two hours away if it happens at all (update from the 70-year-old); that Samoa is that way (pointing) and I'm pretty sure there's a jutty out bit of the North Island in the way; and, if I haven't mentioned it, that the whitebait are running.
She's thinking all the same things, but says: "It'd just be irresponsible. We've got someone else's child with us." Our son has brought along a mate.
"Look, that panic artist is probably in the fire brigade. He has to go when the siren sounds," I say. (Turns out later I was right).
"No, let's go."
This is why she's the mother.
So we trudge back to the car. I drag my net in the sand. I can't bring myself to load everything up again. I look at the bait in my holder. I look at the surge of the sea into the mouth.
And then the local constabulary arrives. All his lights are flashing. They'd be a squeal of tyres if he wasn't on gravel. This obviously beats paperwork.
"Out, out," he hollows, before powering off in a shower of stones, breaking two windscreens (okay, so I exaggerate).
He spends the next hour though getting people off both sides of the mouth and along the riverbank. "Out, out."
The fire brigade's both engines are on duty, one blocking an entry point to the beach, the other keeping watch from a headland. There are no official updates, except to say monitoring equipment on Raoul Island has detected a surge.
Neither the policeman nor the firemen know where Raoul Island is.
For the next five hours everyone keeps an eye on the horizon. And as we do so I realise how petty I've been.
Over that horizon is a disaster I simply can't appreciate.
My thoughts are with all those in Samoa and Tonga.
Whitebaiters warned over intimidation, threats
By REBEKAH LYELL of the Hokitika Guardian - The Greymouth Star | Tuesday, 06 October 2009
WHITEBAITERS on the Hokitika River have been warned to behave themselves or face prosecution.
Sergeant Russell Glue, of Hokitika police, said they had received a number of complaints about intimidation and threats being made to people fishing on local rivers, especially the Hokitika.
“Police are taking these complaints seriously and if this sort of behaviour continues then police will be charging offenders for their actions.”
Mr Glue said police were working closely with the Department of Conservation on the issue.
DOC Hokitika area manager Ian McClure said there had been several reports of intimidation from people who had been subject to abuse.
“In the most recent reported case a person who arrived and started fishing at a vacant spot was accosted by an aggressive whitebaiter, who was convinced he owned the location and proceeded to whitebait right at the exact same spot while abusing the person, who had every right to be there.”
Mr McClure said anyone who was intimidated or abused should inform the police.
“I have made it clear to the people who are acting in this way that they have no special rights to that section of river and positions on the bank are available to all on a ‘first come, first served’ basis.” He was also concerned about the behaviour of a number of whitebaiters on the south side of the Hokitika River, where a group of about 10 people had marked out what they saw as their “own private fishing spots” on the floodwall by erecting structures, cutting down vegetation and rolling smaller rocks from the wall into the water to hold down their spotter boards.
“When they are away from the floodwall they attempt to reserve their fishing positions by tying ropes across the access ways they have cut through the vegetation and leaving boards, cut vegetation and other obstructions in the way,” Mr McClure said.
DOC staff had made several visits to Southside to ensure those responsible for the damage were identified and held responsible for removing it.
Mr Glue said anyone with complaints about threats, intimidation or other criminal matters should contact the police, who would investigate and deal with the matter.
Mr McClure said rangers were also reminding whitebaiters that they must remove all of their fishing gear, including stakes and spotters, from the water when they had finished for the day.
“In some cases department staff have had to remove gear left in the water and put it on the bank. In future, gear left in the water will be taken way from the riverbed after removal.”
Threats as whitebaiters vie for best river spots
By JARROD BOOKER - The New Zealand Herald | Friday, 09 October 2009
GRABBING A SPOT: A few fishermen have sites they
register and pay for but for most it's a free-for-all.
— Photo: ALAN GIBSON/NZ Herald.
IT'S ALWAYS been a sought-after delicacy, but the insatiable appetite for whitebait is now leading to warfare on the riverbanks.
Police and the Department of Conservation are fielding reports of threats and intimidation on the West Coast as whitebaiters vie for the best fishing spots.
The region is widely considered to have the best whitebait in the country and lures fishermen from far afield.
Authorities have warned they will not tolerate such behaviour, and will prosecute if necessary.
Sergeant Russell Glue, of the Hokitika police, said people had complained of other whitebaiters pushing them from their fishing spots on the Hokitika River, and he was convinced it was happening on other rivers too.
There had been no reports of violence as yet, but police were concerned it could continue to escalate if unchecked.
A lean run for whitebait might have intensified the competition for the delicacy, Mr Glue said.
Tougher economic times seemed to have encouraged more people to go fishing to try to make some money.
He was unsure if people visiting the Coast were being picked on by locals.
"There's a lot of people around that aren't locals, but they're entitled to have a go as well as everybody else. They're all as bad as each other, to be honest."
Disputes over whitebait on the West Coast are nothing new.
In 2003, the Grey District Council considered regulations after disputes over positions on the Grey River led to alleged threats of retaliation from Christchurch gang members.
Angela Anderson, of the West Coast Whitebaiters Association, said the group was "seriously concerned" about the aggression and blatant rule-breaking and had taken its concerns to the Government.
While a limited number of fishermen had structures on sites they registered and paid for, others were trying to claim fishing spots they had no right to.
"They are claiming that site, and the next morning someone else will be on that site, and that's where the fighting and the arguments are starting. It's first in, first served."
Mrs Anderson said she had heard of a group from Australia who had travelled to the Coast just to try their hand at catching the premier whitebait the region offered.
The whitebaiting season on the West Coast ends on November 14, and for the rest of the country on November 30.