Report highlights southern ‘lost rivers’
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