Local whitebaiters look set for a bumper catch as the season kicks off on Saturday.
Hawke's Bay Regional Council and the local Department of Conservation (DOC) have been working together to boost the whitebait population before the season begins.
Work has gone into fencing and planting rivers and protecting egg sites. A 15ha wetland in the Waitangi regional park has also been constructed which is an ideal habitat for inanga, one of the main whitebait species.
"An overall increase in catch rates may be a good indication that the adult populations are recovering," Dan Fake Regional Council Freshwater Ecologist said.
"Talking with whitebaiters that have been fishing since the 80s, catches in the Bay have dramatically improved in recent years. It may well be that all the good work that has been done is paying off," ex DOC ranger Hans Rook said.
DOC senior ranger Chris Wootton said there will be an increased DOC presence this year.
DOC and the Regional Council met with the whitebaiting community in Napier and Pōrangahau before the season began.
Regional Council Ranger Mark Brinsdon said the meetings were great and DOC's role in registration and the council's rules around registering were talked about.
"We stressed that we'd like to see stands removed from the river 14 days after the season finished, as leftover Warratahs and building materials present dangers to other river users. We want to work with the community so they have a good season, and so we protect our species for the future."
The regional council is responsible for issuing consents for whitebait stands.