Tuesday, January 6, 2015

06/01/2015: Low water levels risky for New Zealand fish

In North Canterbury, New Zealand, rivers are drying out up to two months earlier than normal, sending Fish and Game officers on a race to save as many fish as they can, The Press reports.

Low rainfall levels and continued irrigation on farmland have contributed to rapidly falling water levels in some of Canterbury's rivers.


Fish and Game North Canterbury field officer Steve Terry said many lowland rivers started drying out eight weeks ago, including the Cust and Ashley rivers. 

It was normal for some sections of some rivers to dry out in summer, but "not that early", he said. 

"We'd normally expect to start around now." 

Many tributaries of Lake Ellesmere were also affected by low water levels, including the upper Selwyn River, putting thousands of trout and native fish, such as galaxids and eels, at risk of dying. 

Fish and Game officers had rescued about 2500 fish over the last two months, including about 1500 from the Cust River alone, and they expected to be back at the Ashley River today.

Many were young, small fish, but some were up to 10 pounds – "trophy" fish highly-sought after by anglers. 

"We try to keep as many of these alive as we can," Terry said.

"People fly in in from all around the world to fish these trophy fish. No one likes to see fish dying." 

Terry said low water levels were a "massive issue" around the Canterbury plains.

He hoped Environment Canterbury would continue to investigate solutions.

"It's not a simple fix."

Read the article and watch the video HERE.

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