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Help save our native fish

Help save our native fish

Saturday 24 May is World Fish Migration Day, an event highlighting the importance of open rivers and migratory fish, and celebrated in over 250 locations worldwide.

This year Auckland Council is celebrating by completing remedial works across the region to open up stream habitats for native fish.

This is the third project in a region wide programme tackling barriers such as poorly installed culverts (pipes that allow water to flow under a road or obstruction) preventing fish from moving up the stream to breed.

This project on Great Barrier Island improved over 40km of stream environment for native fish. Other projects in South Auckland improved habitat along stream beds, removed barriers and re-established fish passages.

Culverts can prevent fish from migrating upstream to breed. As our native fish such as eels and whitebait species kokopu and īnanga don’t have the jumping skills of salmon or trout, poorly installed culverts have had a significant impact on our native fish populations. Of particular concern are īnanga, which form the majority of the whitebait catch.

To make the culverts fish-friendly, ramps and ropes are installed to replicate a stream bed or the tree roots that the fish are able to climb.

These small fish are also sources of food for larger marine fish such hapuka, red cod and kahawai, and even some birds such the kingfisher, so by improving the habitat for these fish at a bottom of the food chain, many other species also benefit including us.

“The key to making these projects work is picking the right stream,” says Craig McIlroy, the stormwater manager at Auckland Council. “We are targeting streams with good upland habitats, as that is the area of the stream these fish need the most.”

The removal of streamside habitats can also harm our native fish population as trees and foliage provide shade and many fish lay eggs in stream bank grasses.

Environmental Services Manager Gael Ogilvie says, “Auckland Council is working with landowners across the region to fence and re-establish shading vegetation along many of our waterways.

“What we do on land and in streams has an impact on our native biodiversity. It’s important to protect our natural taonga for future generations.”

The culverts project is just one of a number of projects led by Auckland Council freshwater scientists and stormwater engineers to improve our stream environments across Auckland.

In South Auckland, the acquisition of Clover Park, bordering on Otara Creek, has provided Auckland Council with an opportunity to remove a disused ford and re-establish fish passage in the area, and in New Lynn, the council is working with Fruitvale School and Ritchies Coachlines to uncover a piped stream, improving passage for fish and creating an educational resource for the school.

Everyone has a part to play in helping to protect, restore and connect our native environment. To find out how you can help visit www.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz


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