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Levin landowners get behind native fish

Levin landowners get behind native fish

Over 1,000 native plants have been planted on the Mitchell property in Levin to protect and enhance native fish habitat under the Manawatu River Leaders’ Accord.

The plants have gone in alongside streams in the Koputaroa sub-catchment, which has been identified as a regional hot-spot for native fish and a locally valued whitebait and tuna (eel) fishery.

Horizons Regional Council freshwater management officer Anna Deverall says the Mitchells are one of 12 landowners to engage with stream-side fencing and planting initiatives with help from the Leaders’ Accord and Central Government’s Fresh Start for Freshwater Clean-up Fund.

“Over 3.8km of fencing and over 3,800 native plants have gone in throughout the Koputaroa sub-catchment over the past two years. That’s fantastic news for our native fish and we’re really pleased with the uptake from landowners,” Ms Deverall says.

“Not only that, but the wider community has shown their support for the project through getting involved in the planting. Just recently members of the Horowhenua Hunting Club gave up their time to help out on the Mitchell’s property with many hands making light work of the planting.”

Planting alongside waterways provides essential shade and a food source for native fish. It can also improve the stability of stream banks and help mitigate the amount of nutrient and sediment entering a stream.

Landowner Christine Mitchell spent time completing environmental papers and working in the Freshwater Ecology Department at Massey University and says this taught her about the rapid decline in native fish populations and the need to restore their habitats.

“My husband Bruce has lived on the farm all his life and has noticed a huge reduction in fish numbers since he was a child. We had already fenced and planted wetland areas and a bush remnant or stream in partnership with Horizons, so when we heard about the financial assistance available to protect more stream habitat we jumped at the chance,” she says.

Native fish species sighted in the Koputaroa sub-catchment include banded kokopu, brown mudfish, inanga, shortfin and longfin eel and crans bully.

Ms Deverall says all of these native fish species stand to benefit from work underway.

“Due to its proximity to the coast and hills, the Koputaroa sub-catchment should have the highest level of biodiversity in the area. We’re looking forward to seeing native fish populations flourish in years to come,” she says.

Native fish habitat restoration was one of eight projects to receive funding from Central Government’s Fresh Start for Freshwater Clean-up Fund through the Manawatū River Leaders’ Accord over the past two years.

Landowners interested in undertaking stream fencing and habitat restoration are encouraged to contact Horizons’ freshwater team on toll free 0508 800 800 to discuss assistance available for this work.

More information about the Manawatū River Leaders’ Accord and its work is available online via the Manawatū River website www.manawaturiver.co.nz or Facebook page www.facebook.com/manawaturiver


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