Re­port high­lights south­ern ‘lost rivers’

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More than 15 south­ern wa­ter­ways ap­pear on a list of rivers ‘‘lost or in no­tice­able de­cline’’ as pub­lic trout fish­eries.

The list was com­piled by NZ Fed­er­a­tion of Fresh­wa­ter An­glers ex­ec­u­tive mem­ber Steve Ger­ard.

South­ern wa­ter­ways ap­pear­ing on the list in­clude the Pom­a­haka, Oreti, Makarewa, Moko­reta, Upukerora, White­stone and Mararoa rivers, and the Waipahi, Otamita, Waimea, Lora, Otapiri, Duns­dale, Hedge­hope, Ti­tipua, Waimatuku, Orauea and Mim­i­hau streams.

Ger­ard said New Zealand’s trout fish­eries were ‘‘go­ing down­hill’’.

The map­ping listed rivers where a sig­nif­i­cant loss of op­por­tu­nity to catch fish had been iden­ti­fied, and high­lighted ‘‘the sig­nif­i­cant de­cline in our fresh­wa­ter fish­eries’’.

Ger­ard said the causes ‘‘gen­er­ally re­late to de­vel­op­ments such as large scale ir­ri­ga­tion, in­ten­sive farm­ing - par­tic­u­larly dairy­ing and forestry clear-felling and forestry mono­cul­tures within catch­ments’’.

‘‘It’s very eye-open­ing and a sharp re­minder with an elec­tion loom­ing, that wa­ter and rivers is an is­sue to take up with politi­cians.’’

The Pom­a­haka River, be­tween Gore and Bal­clutha, was for­merly one of the coun­try’s prime trout rivers, ‘‘but wa­ter qual­ity has de­clined markedly since about 1980, pri­mar­ily be­cause of in­ten­sive agri­cul­tural de­vel­op­ment,’’ the fed­er­a­tion says.

The Waimea Stream, near Man­dev­ille, had ’’some of the high­est ni­trate lev­els in South­land’’, and had be­come ‘‘no more than a dirty ditch in parts’’.

Agri­cul­ture was not the only cul­prit iden­ti­fied by the fed­er­a­tion. Re­moval of shad­ing wil­low trees was blamed for de­cline in fish­eries val­ues in the Upukerora and White­stone rivers near Te Anau.

Fed­er­a­tion pres­i­dent Gra­ham Carter said the list was com­piled us­ing NIWA an­gler us­age and per­cep­tion sur­veys and ex­pert an­gler in­put.

‘‘Only rivers where there was an ob­vi­ous de­cline have been listed. There re­main a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of oth­ers where there wasn’t enough col­lab­o­rat­ing in­for­ma­tion to in­clude them.’’

He said the pur­pose of the list was to raise aware­ness ‘‘of just how big an is­sue this re­ally is’’.

The fed­er­a­tion would keep up­dat­ing the map as more in­for­ma­tion was com­piled.

The NZ As­so­ci­a­tion of Fresh­wa­ter An­glers says there is a de­cline in fish­eries across the South Is­land

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