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BACK FROM THE VERGE OF EXTINCTION – SOCKEYE SALMON ARE SPAWNING IN THE MACKENZIE COUNTRY The Southern Hemisphere’s only population of the mysterious sockeye salmon has started its spawning run in the MacKenzie Country’s alpine rivers, providing the region with a new tourist attraction. In the Twizel River, the sockeye are passing under the State Highway 8 Bridge near Twizel township, and the sight of hundreds of fish moving up the river, and spawning right below the bridge, has become popular with tourists and locals. For many, the chance to see these fish migrate is a once in a lifetime event with dozens of people crowding the bridge to look at them. The sockeye are highly visible, often bursting out of the water in a shower of spray as they scramble across the riffles in their search for the ideal spot in the riverbed to lay their eggs. The MacKenzie Country sockeye is the only population of the species in the southern hemisphere. Released in 1901 as an attempt to create a sea-run salmon canning industry, the attempt failed when the sockeye never ran to the sea, leaving the Chinook salmon to become the basis for the South Island’s successful salmon fishery. Sockeye were thought to have died out in the late 1980’s, however around 2005, Central South Island Fish & Game started receiving reports of them spawning once again. Now the sockeye can be found in their thousands heading upstream at this time of year to breed. Central South Island Fish & Game Officer Jayde Couper says the sockeye’s comeback from the verge of extinction continues. “This year the spawning effort appears to be wide spread and the numbers are reasonably high”. “Sockeye have been observed in almost all of the Lake Benmore tributary rivers and streams, most notably the upper Ahuriri River and its tributaries, Lower Ohau River and its tributaries like the Twizel and Fraser Rivers, the Tekapo River and its tributaries like the Mary Burn and Forks River”. Mr Couper says sockeye are also turning up in areas where they were not thought to exist. “The other interesting observation this year is the Lake Pukaki population is flourishing, yet Fish &Game staff only heard about it recently #H2WHOA

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Thirty thousand one-year old salmon were released into the Silverstream near Ohoka this week. The fish which were raised from wild fish which had returned to the Silverstream and who had been trapped and had their Ova (eggs) and Milt (sperm) harvested by Fish & Game. North Canterbury Fish & Game then raised these fish at their Montrose Hatchery before returning them to Silverstream. This was done in order to increase the chances of the fish surviving and being able to return to the fishery. Being one-year old fish they are bigger (about 50 grams in size) and have a much higher survival rate as they run the gauntlet to sea of predators like eels and birds. The fish were then held in the pens at Salmon Smolt NZ for the last 10 weeks so that they could imprint on the chemical signature of Silverstream which would enable them to return to the river in three-years when they complete their life cycle and spawn. The Silverstream is tributary of the Waimakariri River and is an important historical spawning site of salmon in the river. Efforts are underway by the community and the local Water Zone Committee to preserve this important habitat for the benefit of future generations. Salmon Smolt NZ General Manager Karl French says “these fish will supplement the natural runs and hopefully in three or four years time we will get a good return for the benefit of anglers.” #h2whoa

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Sixty-five tonnes of accumulated silt has been blasted out of a Christchurch stream in an effort to entice trout back to breed, and improve the habitat for other aquatic life. Recently North Canterbury Fish & Game staff spent two weeks co-ordinating the removal of sediment from the Wairarapa Stream in western Christchurch. The stream is one of the Avon River’s most important tributaries. The operation removed silt which had accumulated over the years from storm-water drains flowing into the once-pristine stream. The goal was to make the stream suitable for trout to spawn in, and habitable by other aquatic life. “Silt layers on top of the stream gravels had smothered the invertebrates that live in the stream bed, and by removing the sediment aquatic life has the chance to prosper again,” says Fish & Game Officer Emily Arthur-Moore. In total, around 540 square metres of streambed near the Jellie Park Recreation and Sport Centre in Ilam were cleaned. That equates to 120 kilograms of silt per square metre cleaned. The project had planned to be carried out over a longer reach but the techniques took longer than expected. “Various techniques were used during the two weeks, including water jet blasters, diggers and a specialised piece of equipment called a ‘sand wand,’ Ms Arthur-Moore says. Support was given to the project by the Christchurch City Council, Environment Canterbury and Nelson-based dredging and water treatment consultants Southwater, who also provided various pumps, hoses and dosing equipment ‘gratis’. The silt-laden streambed was agitated using either the water jet blasters or the sand wand and the disturbed silt was then captured and then removed to a de-watering site. After a process to remove the silt, cleaned water was returned to the stream and sediment remaining was taken to a landfill for disposal. Monitoring was carried out throughout the project to assess levels of sediment going downstream. “Large amounts of rubbish were also removed during the process, mainly broken glass and crockery but also items of footwear, batteries #H2WHOA

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