The start of the trout fishing season marked a new era for Te Arawa lakes management.
New bylaws - 10 years in the making - are now in place to better protect taonga species.
These include tuna (Anguilla australis shortfin eel and Anguilla dieffenbachia longfin eel), īnanga (Galaxias maculatus), kākahi (Hyridella echyridella menziesi), kōaro (Galaxias brevipinnis), kōura (Paranephrops planiforns freshwater crayfish) and mōrihana (Carassius auratus).
Anyone taking the taonga species will need a permit from now on.
One of the biggest bylaw changes is the ban on fishing for kōaro fishery because numbers are unsustainably low.
Another is a new ban on scuba diving for kōura - a fishing method that had caused clashes between concerned locals and visitors collecting large numbers of the freshwater crayfish in the past.
Te Arawa Lakes Trust environment manager Nicki Douglas said the opening of the 2020 trout season was the "perfect opportunity" to make sure lake users were informed of the new rules.
"But it's important that people know that the bylaws only apply to our native freshwater species, not trout."
The bylaws apply to Rotoehu, Rotomā, Rotorua, Ōkataina, Rotoiti, Ōkareka, Rerewhakaaitu, Tarawera, Rotomahana, Tikitapu (the Blue Lake), Ngāhewa, Tutaeīnanga, Ngāpouri and Ōkaro lakes, but do not include the streams and rivers flowing into the lakes, or Lake Rotokākahi.
They put restrictions on the size, quantity and methods of harvesting protected species to enable them to regenerate for future generations.
"Freshwater taonga are a traditional food source for Te Arawa, but they have been in decline for some time, so there needed to be a change to help protect and replenish the native species," Douglas said.
The bylaws were developed by Te Komiti Whakahaere, the Te Arawa Fisheries Committee, which sits within Te Arawa Lakes Trust.
There was extensive engagement with Government agencies such as Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), DOC and relevant organisations such as Fish and Game, and the new rules were shaped by the aspirations of hapū and iwi.
People were able to put their names forward as poutiriao (guardians), she said.
Another significant milestone marked this season is the employment of hew biosecurity officers.
Four officers from Te Arawa Lakes Trust were at Lake Tarawera on Thursday morning at the Ōtaramarae boat ramp, to inspect every boat going into the water, hand out the latest biosecurity information and run a sausage sizzle.
This year marks the first time the trust has taken over a warranted biosecurity role, creating new opportunities for 15 Te Arawa hunga tiaki.
The officers are warranted under the Biosecurity Act and are authorised by Bay of Plenty Regional Council.
Trust operations manager, William Anaru said the officers started off the season "helping boaties understand the risks and the steps they need to take themselves to prevent the spread of pest weed and species".
Information gathered from taonga species permit holders (such as what they caught and where) will be used to get a better picture of the health and sustainability of lake species over time.
To get a permit, email email@example.com and see the new rules online.