Stranded fish rescued after the Ashley River dries up

  • 10/05/2016

North Canterbury Fish & Game staff have rescued more than 40 fish in a fish salvage operation in the Ashley River.

FGNZ Rescue 1Concerned members of the public had alerted Fish & Game to some isolated pools of fish in the river which has rapidly dried up recently.

Fish & Game Field Officer Tony Hawker says it is quite unusual for them to be doing this type of operation in May (Monday May 9).

Top right: Staff rescue fish trapped in pools on the rapidly drying Ashley River near Rangiora.

Normally staff keep a watch on the river in the height of summer around Christmas and launch salvage operations when the flow drops.

“But with no rain recently and irrigators still able to take water, the Ashley has un-seasonally dried up,” he says.

The river which currently has a river stage height of just five centimetres at the Cones Road Bridge near Rangiora had a flow of around 60 centimetres a year ago.

“No doubt it’s been a dry year and while groundwater consent holders close to the river will have restrictions when the river’s low, those consent holders that are a bit further away have no restriction.”

Staff used an electric fishing machine which stuns the fish and draws them out from under the debris so that staff can net them.

The fish are only stunned while the electric current is running and recover in seconds once they’re away from it.

The fish are then placed in a holding tank and released in the same river system into an area with more permanent flowing water.

Native species such as eels were also recovered by Fish & Game including a longfin eel that was estimated to be at least 80 years-old.

All fish were released into the Waikuku Stream, which is a tributary of the Ashley River, downstream of where they were rescued from.

The Waikuku Water Management Group recently won a Working with Nature environmental award from North Canterbury Fish & Game for their work on restoring the stream, so it was fitting that the rescued fish were released into this healthy habitat, Mr Hawker says.

Watch the Fish & Game YouTube video

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