Whitebaiters are being told to brush up on regulations regarding the season before it starts on Monday, August 15.
Hawke's Bay biodiversity ranger Dan Winchester said the whitebait season dates and fishing hours were set to give whitebait the opportunity to return to their spawning grounds.
"When people don't follow those regulations, it harms whitebait populations to a point where they may not recover."
Whitebait, the tiny, transparent young of several native fish species, are currently in decline across the country.
Regulations including season dates and hours, the requirement that whitebaiters stay with their nets, and the one net per whitebaiter limit are in place to help combat this decline.
"Protecting whitebait species is at the core of what we're doing," Mr Winchester said.
"We want you to be able to go whitebaiting in the future. We want you to share it with your family and whnau. So we need you to respect these regulations.
"Whitebaiting is a longstanding tradition for the Hawke's Bay community, and we're keen to keep it that way."
Whitebaiting is permitted between 5am and 8pm until September 25 (daylight savings). From that date until the season closes on November 30, permitted hours are between 6am and 9pm.
DoC rangers will be patrolling sites and talking to whitebaiters throughout the season to ensure people are complying with the regulations.
Offending whitebaiters may be fined up to $5000 and can lose their equipment.
Last season, 48 nets were seized along the East Coast.
Mr Winchester said the Hawke's Bay District's compliance rangers were hoping not to have a repeat of high number of offences.
Whitebaiters can find more information on current regulations by picking up a regulations pamphlet at local sporting shops or by visiting http://www.doc.govt.nz/whitebaiting.