Rare fish hunt leads to com­mu­nity ef­fort

Central Otago Mirror - - NEWS -

Cen­tral Otago’s rare na­tive fish are usu­ally des­tined to be fried up in a white­bait pat­tie. But some Cen­tral Otago school pupils and landown­ers are dis­cov­er­ing there is a lot more to the pre­cious galaxiid fresh­wa­ter fish. The Depart­ment of Con­ser­va­tion has teamed up with schools, landown­ers and busi­nesses in the re­gion on its Grow­ing Otago’s Galaxiid (GOG) pro­ject be­ing co-or­di­nated by the depart­ment’s fresh­wa­ter ecol­o­gist Lan Pham. ‘‘We are ask­ing peo­ple what they want to do about pro­tect­ing their lo­cal galaxiid species. ‘‘As fresh­wa­ter re­sources come un­der in­creas­ing pres­sure, it’s a high pri­or­ity for us to raise the pro­file of th­ese fish,’’ Ms Pham said. Two Ran­furly schools, Man­iototo Area and St John’s schools are part of the pro­ject. In a meet-the-galaxiid day in the Lit­tle Kye­burn ear­lier this month stu­dents found Cen­tral Otago round­heads and stream in­ver­te­brates. To find the fish Ms Pham used the elec­tric fish­ing method, putting an elec­tric cur­rent into the wa­ter tem­po­rar­ily stun­ning the fish, al­low­ing them to be caught then re­leased. ‘‘The par­ents and teacher were loving it just as much as the kids, if not more,’’ she said. Cen­tral Otago landown­ers also met Ms Pham to search for round­head galaxi­ids.

Gone fish­ing: Depart­ment of Con­ser­va­tion fresh­wa­ter ecol­o­gist Lan Pham and St John’s School pupils on a galaxiid hunt.

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