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Fishy business at Western Springs Lake

1 February 2005

Fishy business at Western Springs Lake

Auckland City is on the lookout for people illegally fishing in Western Springs Lake.

It is feared that fishing may put native eels at risk.

The extra vigilance follows reports from park staff and members of the public who have spotted offenders in action.

According to Part 20 of the Auckland City Consolidated Bylaw (1998), it is illegal to kill or injure any animal in a public place. This includes all lakes in the Auckland city area. Offenders caught fishing in any of Auckland city’s lakes can be fined up to $500.

The long-finned eel, which is only found in New Zealand, has recently been classified by the Department of Conservation as “in gradual decline”, which means it is likely to be extinct within 50 years. The eels are an original part of the cultural and ecological heritage of Western Springs Lake – a fact that is reflected in the lake’s Maori name “Te Wai Orea”, which means “waters of the eel”.

Eel populations are particularly vulnerable because eels take a long time to grow to their potential two metres (usually only between 1cm and 2cm per year) and female eels spawn once only before they die and can be up to 80 years old before they do so.

Auckland City parks officer Graham Marchant is concerned that fishing in the lake will have long-term effects on the park’s ecology.

“The lake has many species of plant and aquatic life. All play a part in keeping the wetlands in healthy balance. If anything is altered or removed, it can have a far-reaching effect on the entire ecosystem,” he says.

Other species that could be affected by the illegal fishing include tench, perch, catfish, goldfish, koi and grasscarp.

Park visitors who see fishing in the lake are asked to help by calling 379 2020.

Words and illustrations on signs around the lake state fishing is illegal and Auckland City is now upgrading the signage to include translations in several languages.

From 1877 until the early twentieth century, the springs were Auckland city’s sole water-supply source and were subsequently used as a supplementary supply up until the late 1940s. Today the lake is part of a reserve and wildlife sanctuary and its water levels are managed by two weirs, with excess volumes being drawn for use by Auckland Zoo.

Note to the editor:
To view the appropriate section of the Auckland City Consolidated Bylaw (1998), please visit http://www.aucklandcity.govt.nz/council/documents/bylaw/part20.asp#8 and refer to 20.3.1 (m).


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