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Canterbury Anglers Get Covid-19 Bonus

Anglers at the Rakaia River mouth in February 2020

Anglers in North Canterbury who have spent the last seven weeks in various forms of lockdown are now able to fish selected lakes and rivers that would be normally closed at this time of year.

The North Canterbury Fish & Game Council applied to the Minister of Conservation for an amendment to the Sports Fishing Notice, North Canterbury anglers can now fish these selected waterways.

"This is great news for Canterbury anglers who had lost fishing opportunities due to a combination of Covid-19 restrictions. We thank the Minister for her support of North Canterbury anglers and her speedy decision" says Alan Strong, Chairman of the North Canterbury Fish and Game Council.

"The extension of the season will be a welcome relief during these stressful times, and we encourage people to enjoy the spectacular freshwater fishing opportunities that the North Canterbury region has to offer, as well as to allow them the chance to go out and catch a trout for the table" Strong says.

The Covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdown imposed by the Government meant that anglers were unable to utilise the last six weeks of the traditional fishing season.

North Canterbury Fish & Game CEO Rasmus Gabrielsson says "For the last four years most waterways in the North Canterbury region have closed at the end of April, and as a result our reduced winter season (1 May to 30 September) has offered less opportunities compared to most other South Island regions".

"This lack of winter fishing opportunity is something that North Canterbury Fish & Game is looking to rectify long term, through a review of the fishing regulations for next season. However, the Council deemed it appropriate to consider allowing more opportunity sooner. So, we applied to the Minister of Conservation for a one-off amendment and extension to the current fishing season. These are extraordinary circumstances that certainly justify practical adjustment to ensure anglers get some local recreation opportunities to get into the outdoors" Gabrielsson says.

The extension applies to a selected number of waterways that anglers can fish in, close to our population centres which gives anglers the opportunity to fish locally and close to home in keeping with Covid-19 conditions.

The waterways and lower sections of larger rivers included in the application were carefully selected to ensure that no known major spawning areas are put at risk. Because important spawning areas are protected it is not considered any additional harvest pressure, or angling opportunities will risk endangering the long-term sustainability of sports fish populations.

In addition to applying for this one-off extension the North Canterbury region will also be undertaking a wider angling regulation review later this month. More information regarding the proposed regulation changes will be available on the Fish & Game website from 18 May, and we will be inviting anglers to make their submissions to us in writing so the Council can consider them at their 17 June Council meeting.

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