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Helping fish get around

Helping fish get around
For immediate release: 1 April 2014

Bay of Plenty Regional Council, in partnership with Western Bay of Plenty District Council, is making life easier for fish in the Kaituna River by trialling three new ‘fish friendly floodgates’ in culverts near Te Puke and Maketu.

The specially designed gates have been installed at culverts on Bell Rd and Maketu Rd to improve habitat for native fish such as tuna (eel), bullies and whitebait species including inanga and smelt.

“This work supports the efforts of the Maketū Taiapure Committee and helps deliver on the Kaituna River and Ongatoro/Maketu Estuary Strategy aim of improving and providing links between habitats for native fish,” said Regional Council project manager Pim de Monchy.

“We completed surveys last year that found more than 30 structures within the Kaituna River and Maketū Estuary that are currently limiting native fish passage upstream. This means the fish have reduced access to areas that are suitable for them to live and breed in,” Mr de Monchy said.

A Massey University student is assessing the effects of the new fish friendly gates on fish populations and water quality. Mr de Monchy said that if the trial is successful, more fish friendly gates could be installed at additional locations.

“This work will be complemented by the Regional Council’s current Kaituna River Re-diversion and Wetland Creation Project which will also deliver on Strategy aims. We expect that the Kaituna River re-diversion project will lead to significant ecological improvements and reduced sedimentation in the estuary, which will also benefit native fish,” said Mr de Monchy.

“The project also aims to re-create at least 20 hectares of wetland habitat. The re-diversion will allow up to four times more water from the Kaituna to flow into the Maketū Estuary which will help restore the mauri (life force) of the area,” Mr de Monchy said.

Regional Council staff and consultants presented modelling data at a community meeting on 6 March which showed how the chosen option for the Kaituna River re-diversion will maximise flow into the Ongatoro/Maketu Estuary while keeping Te Tumu cut open for flood protection and boating access.

A community session is being held at 2pm on Saturday 3 May at Whakaue Marae, to demystify the technical modelling data.

“At the workshop on May third, we’ll show in simple terms what effects the re-diversion is expected to have on kaimoana, boating and swimming safety, erosion and flood risk, based on modelling data. We’ll also have experts on hand to answer any questions that people still have,” said Mr de Monchy.

A further public meeting will be held at Whakaue Marae at 6pm on Thursday 8 May to outline the consent process and answer any last questions before consent applications are lodged for the Kaituna River Re-diversion and Wetland Creation Project.

Regional Council staff are planning to lodge resource consent applications and a Notice of Requirement to designate land required for the project, by late June this year.


Ends


Background information:
• The Bay of Plenty Regional Council works with the community to care for the region’s land, air and water.
• The Kaituna River and Ōngātoro/Maketū Estuary Strategy was developed to ensure the river and estuary are managed to meet the community’s needs for clean water, abundant native wildlife, kaimoana, recreation and kaitiakitanga.
• The Strategy was developed in 2009 by Bay of Plenty Regional Council, Western Bay of Plenty District Council, Tauranga City Council and Rotorua District Council with iwi, hapū, individuals, community groups and organisations from the Kaituna/Maketū community.
• The Regional Council is leading the Kaituna River Re-diversion and Wetland Creation Project to increase the volume of fresh water flowing from the Kaituna River into Ongatoro/Maketū Estuary. This will help to meet the goals of the Strategy.

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