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Horizons receives funding for habitat restoration

Horizons receives Enviro-link funding for habitat restoration

Horizons Regional Council has received Enviro-link funding to aid Inanga (native whitebait) habitat restoration and solutions to native fish migration barriers in the Manawatu River catchment.

Enviro-link is a regional council driven funding scheme, administered by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment-Science and Innovation.

A Manawatu River Leaders’ Accord project, native fish and whitebait habitat restoration aims to identify potential Inanga spawning sites, fix native fish migration barriers, fence off water ways and establish planting on the water’s edge providing habitat and shade for native fish to breed.

Inanga are one of five whitebait species and make up 90 per cent of the whitebait catch. They use lowland streams for spawning.

Horizons freshwater management officer Josh Markham says over the years lowland farm intensification has depleted Inanga spawning habitat as stock graze riparian grasses, sedges and rushes that they spawn under.

“By fencing off waterways and planting along side streams we hope to restore and protect spawning sites and in turn protect and increase our native fish population. We have Manawatu River Accord Clean Up funding available to assist landowners with this,” he says.

The Enviro-link funding has allowed Horizons to hire expert advice on Inanga spawning habitat restoration to complement the Manawatu River Leaders’ Accord project.

“We applied for funding so we could hire Dr Mike Hickford from University of Canterbury Biological Sciences Group, and Hans Rook and Martin Ruledge from DOC to join us for a two day workshop in March,” say Mr Markham

“These guys are considered the top Inanga spawning habitat restoration experts in New Zealand and what they can teach us will be invaluable for whitebait restoration in our rivers.”

Mr Markham says Horizons is running the workshop for organisations within the Manawatu catchment who are involved in Inanga spawning habitat restoration.

“The workshop is based at a grass roots level, sharing expert knowledge and hands on field skills. The idea is to transfer knowledge from these experts to organisations working on the ground who will in turn teach community groups that they are involved with.

“The workshop involves a presentation on past and present Inanga spawning habitat restoration around New Zealand and how to go about doing it. We will also have a day of training in the field which will include identifying preferred habitat, egg searching and monitoring techniques,” Mr Markham says.

In addition to skills learnt in the two-day workshop, Horizons will receive site specific advice on how to restore Inanga spawning habitat along the Manawatu which will kick start the Manawatu Clean Up Fund Whitebait Habitat Restoration programme.

Mr Markham says Horizons also received Enviro-link funding to hire the technical services of Dr Jacques Boubee, a freshwater fisheries ecologist from the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric research, who will provide native fish migration barrier solutions for perched culverts and weirs, making them passable for native fish.

“Half of our freshwater native species migrate from the ocean to upland streams but barriers prevent fish reaching habitat upstream and restrict population growth. With the help of Massey University we have identified problem spots in the region and have a detailed native fish barrier database,” he says.

“Jacques’ technical advice will be used to draw up site specific native fish migration solutions to the barriers found in the lower Manawatu catchment. Horizons will then work with the owners and engineers implementing these solutions.”

ENDS

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