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Agreement Aims To Maintain And Enhance New Zealand’s Popular And Iconic Sports Fisheries

Central South Island Fish and Game (CSIFG) and Meridian Energy continue to work together as custodians of New Zealand’s most popular freshwater angling catchment.

CSIFGC and Meridian have entered into an agreement that will maintain and enhance the fishing experience for licence holders and the local communities they support across the Waitaki Catchment.

Stretching from the Main Divide to the Pacific Ocean, the catchment is home to some of New Zealand’s most popular and iconic freshwater sports fisheries.

Many fisheries within the Waitaki Catchment only exist due to the construction of the Waitaki hydroelectric scheme. These fisheries range from the easily accessed hydro canals, the truly unique Ōhau River controlled fishery, through to the iconic summer holiday destination, Lake Benmore.

The combined hydro canal fishery, including the Takapō, Pūkaki and Ōhau canals, is considered the most popular sports fishery in New Zealand and alone accounts for 11.9% of NZ’s freshwater angling effort.

"CSIFGC and Meridian have entered into an agreement that will maintain and enhance the experience for our licence holders and local communities they support across this magnificent catchment," says CSIFGC CEO Steve McKnight.

"The new agreement builds on a former agreement, increasing funding available and expanding the reach of projects that CSIFG can apply it to.

"Priority projects to be funded through the agreement include the annual monitoring of sports fish populations and their harvest so that sustainable regulations can be set to maximise angling opportunity. Examples of this are developing Sonar surveys for sports fish population monitoring at the canals and sports fish catch and harvest surveys at Lake Benmore, complementing our existing Ōhau River and the Lower Waitaki River monitoring programmes currently funded by Meridian.

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"We look forward to growing our partnership with Meridian to enable both locals and the anglers of the world to access and enjoy this superb area of natural beauty, hydro generation and wonderful fishing".

The agreement comes as Meridian Energy applies to renew their resource consent to take and use water for the nationally important Waitaki hydroelectric scheme.

Meridian GM of Generation Tania Palmer says the company is thrilled to sign a new agreement and continue its work with Fish & Game.

"We’re proud of the world-renowned fishery that has developed together with the Waitaki Power Scheme and are very pleased to continue our work with CSIFG to protect and enhance these fisheries for the many people who enjoy them. We’re committed to ensuring it remains a great place to fish, alongside producing critical renewable energy for Aotearoa."

The Waitaki Power Scheme accounts for around 18% of Aotearoa’s electricity and, more importantly, around 67% of average hydro-electricity storage.

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