Waikato trial hopes to reduce native fish deaths

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NZN

Waikato Regional Council is looking to undertake a trial that could reduce native fish mortalities which occur when fish try to pass through council pumps.

The whitebait season has kicked off, and with it comes a warning the delicacy is in decline.

Source: 1 NEWS

This comes after the regional council led a national research investigation last year into the potential impact of land drainage on migratory native fish.

The council's trials showed that during eel migration up to 100 per cent of migratory female eels would die if they were to travel through existing pump stations during their operation.

Council chair Alan Livingston said that these assets were installed a number of years ago and with little consideration for their impact on native aquatic ecology.

"We are dealing with an inherited legacy issue that current and future generations now face and need to address and resolve," he said.

"This issue is not unique to the Waikato, however we do have the largest number of flood pumps in New Zealand."

Waikato councillors voted to propose funding for the development of this fish passage improvement programme to the level of 50 per cent of the required $1.494 million over three years - to be matched by partners funding the balance.

Forest & Bird released documents on the issue on today which revealed the impact the pumps are having on fish deaths - including eels suffering hemorrhaging due to high speed spinning and spinal damage.

Forest & Bird's fresh water advocate Annabeth Cohen says the potential scale of the crisis is horrifying and in some cases all breeding female eels died as they passed through the drainage pumps.

"Seventy-four per cent of our freshwater fish, including longfin eels, are heading towards extinction because of water pollution and habitat destruction. We can now add publicly owned drainage pumps to their problems," Ms Cohen said.

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