Mill Creek fish deaths climb

Central Otago Mirror - - YOUR PAPER, YOUR PLACE - JO MCKEN­ZIE-MCLEAN

The dead brown trout count in a spawn­ing stream near Ar­row­town is con­tin­u­ing to climb.

Lake Hayes res­i­dent Grant Adolph dis­cov­ered 16 dead brown trout in Mill Creek, down­stream of Spear­grass Flat Road bridge, ear­lier this month, seven more two weeks ago and five on Wednesday.

The coun­cil found three last Tues­day at the same point and col­lected them, he said.

‘‘They were prime breed­ing trout fresh from Lake Hayes go­ing up to spawn...I am deeply con­cerned that the deaths of these prime spawn­ing brown trout will fur­ther ac­cel­er­ate the de­cline of Lake Hayes as a recre­ational fishery.’’

Adolph had lived in the area for 25 years and was pas­sion­ate about the out­doors and wildlife. He was also a mem­ber of the New Zealand Pro­fes­sional Fish­ing Guides As­so­ci­a­tion.

‘‘My chil­dren grew up play­ing in Mill Stream and en­joyed the won­der­ful Lake Hayes. I have seen it de­cline dra­mat­i­cally over the last 25 years due to the in­ten­sive de­vel­op­ment of its wa­ter catch­ment feed­ing Lake Hayes through Mill Stream. It’s vi­tal that we en­sure the wa­ter qual­ity of our wa­ter­ways is not im­pacted by de­vel­op­ment. Mea­sures to pre­vent sed­i­ment, ero­sion, chem­i­cal dis­charge or run-off are needed. Wa­ter ex­trac­tion is also needed to be mon­i­tored to en­sure me­chan­i­cal im­pacts or low flows don’t de­stroy our wa­ter re­source and the fauna and flora within the sys­tem.

‘‘Lake Hayes is the bot­tom of the cliff and there­fore ac­tion up­stream needs to be the fo­cus and we all need to mon­i­tor and re­port any­thing that is im­pact­ing neg­a­tively on the wa­ter qual­ity within the sys­tem.’’

Otago Re­gional Coun­cil en­vi­ron­men­tal of­fi­cers are in­ves­ti­gat­ing the cause of death and have been col­lect­ing wa­ter sam­ples at sev­eral points along the creek. The sam­ples are be­ing an­a­lysed to es­tab­lish the pres­ence of pes­ti­cides or other chem­i­cals and heavy met­als, as well as the over­all qual­ity of wa­ter in the creek and an ad­ja­cent wet­land.

Fish and Game of­fi­cer Paul van Klink said they ‘‘may’’ be get­ting closer to the cause but were still car­ry­ing out tests with the coun­cil. Early on, Fish and Game sus­pected a pol­lu­tant was the likely cause of death.

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