Mill Creek fish deaths climb
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.