2023 North Canterbury Anglers Notice consultation

  • North Canterbury
  • 12/09/2023

2023 North Canterbury Anglers Notice consultation

North Canterbury Fish and Game invite anglers to make submissions on our angling regulations.

As per our Anglers Notice review process, North Canterbury Fish & Game is seeking feedback on the following proposed regulation changes:

Move North Canterbury’s Backcountry fisheries to Designated waters fisheries management regime 

Following the nationally coordinated consultation with both Resident and Non-Resident licence holders about the proposed Designated Waters licence system and the upcoming introduction of the system nationally, it is the logical intention to migrate the four current backcountry fisheries of the North Canterbury Region to the new Designated Waters system. 

They are:        

North Branch of the Hurunui River

South Branch of the Hurunui River

Waiau Uwha River and tributaries upstream of the Hope River confluence

Hope River and tributaries 

You can learn more about Designated Water fisheries here

Hope River and tributaries area under Designated Waters to be expanded

For clarity and because of the implementation of a new designated waters system in the West Coast Region, there is the propensity for displaced non-resident anglers to increasingly target the Lewis Pass fishery. Making the Hope River and tributaries upstream of the State Highway 7 Road Bridge a Designated Waters area will better align with angler feedback, enable easy policing of the new Designated Waters system, and overall help better achieve the goals of managing non-resident angler pressure on the Lewis Pass fishery due to its proximity to State Highway 7.

Voluntary Beat System for parts of the Lewis Pass fisheries 

Anglers have suggested Fish & Game trial the introduction of a voluntary beat system in the Lewis Pass fisheries. We would like feedback from regional anglers and the wider Lewis Pass angling population on this concept and how many beats would be considered helpful or acceptable to them. Suggestions to Fish & Game range from establishing between four to seven beats, starting upstream of where the SH 7 Road Bridge crosses the Hope River. 

For an overview of how similar voluntary beat system operates in other South Island Fish & Game regions, see these links to the Upper Wairau River, Nevis River and the Oreti River beat systems. 

Feedback on if this type of voluntary approach to redistribute angling pressure is useful for the Lewis Pass area and what the number of beats that should / could be established would be appreciated. 

Waiau Uwha River Backcountry Fishery area to be expanded under Designated Waters

For clarity and because of the implementation of a new Designated Waters system, we propose making all of the Waiau Uwha River and its tributary streams (excluding Lake Guyon) upstream of the Hope River confluence a Designated Waters area. This adjustment will simplify and better align regulations with angler feedback and use and overall help Fish & Game better achieve its goals of managing angler pressure on the Upper Waiau Uwha River fisheries.

Roto Kohatu winter fishery

 Change the Roto Kohatu lakes to a winter season only, running from April 1 to October 30, with coarse fishing outside of this time by permit only. This is to promote a close-to Christchurch “steppingstone” fishery that could be safely stocked with trout and salmon. It might be possible to use commercial-origin salmon stocks for some fish releases in the future without the risk of them mixing with wild sea-run salmon populations, as the Lake is a closed system (i.e., not connected to other rivers or the ocean). Confining fishing to the winter months removes the risk of conflict with other lake users in the summer months (Nov – March) when the lakes and City Council Park area are so popular with Christchurch residents for other recreational activities.

Aligning angling regulations across Canterbury by addition of note 1.5 from CSI regulations 

The Central South Island region has a regulation to cover for anglers poorly handling fish and releasing them in poor condition. Regulation 1.5 from Central South Island states, “Any licence holder who lands a sports fish that will not be kept shall immediately return it with as little injury as possible into the water from which it was taken”. In the CSI region, this rule has enabled effective monitoring and policing of anglers practising catch and release for sports fish. North Canterbury Fish & Game have received concerns from the public and Rangers over sea-run salmon anglers' catch and release practices and techniques at river mouths. Without a specific rule to police against, Rangers do not have the option of undertaking any enforcement against anglers mistreating fish. This rule aligns angling regulations across Canterbury and better enable Fish & Game to manage compliance and educate against poor catch and release techniques in order to improve the survivability of any released fish.

Reduce the daily bag limit on Lake Marymere from 2 –1 trout, with a maximum length of 400 mm. 

Lake Marymere is a small but accessible lake offering a high solitude, high-country lake fishing experience. Because of its high altitude (>600 a.m.s.l.), trout grow slowly but are often long-lived. Consequently, it needs to be managed carefully to prevent over-harvesting. The lake is currently designated as a fly-only lake, and reducing the bag limit to one fish below a maximum size is unlikely to impinge negatively on the fishing experience. It will, however, help better protect fish stocks while retaining the management focus on maintaining a high-quality angling experience. If anglers chose or needed to selectively harvest a fish, the proposed regulation change means they would have to cease fishing at Lake Marymere. However, there are several other lakes nearby (e.g. Lakes Hawdon, Sarah and Grasmere) which offer anglers easily accessible alternative fishing options if they have reached their daily bag limit from Lake Marymere. 

Proposed removal of all flyfishing only waterways

 Traditionally a small number of waterways have been designated flyfishing only, excluding anglers using spin fishing methods. However, fish and Game no longer agree with this approach of limiting access by methods and are nationally working to phase these out of existing regulations. 

Most sensitive fisheries currently either have low daily bag limits or slot limits (where fish can only be taken between certain measurements such as a maximum and minimum size limit) to protect existing breeding stock. These tools are Fish and Game’s preferred option for managing any sustainability and angling harvest concerns.

This proposal would see method changes on five waterways to allow both fly and spin fishing methods; these waterways are Lake Ida & Little Lake Ida, Lake Marymere, Lake Catherine (Monck), Lake Sarah, and Lake Sheppard. 

Any harvest concerns could be addressed by lowering the daily bag limit (e.g., from 2 to 1) and by introducing a maximum size limit of, e.g., 400 mm.

Reduce the daily bag limit on the Upper Waimakariri River and key tributaries from 2 –1 trout, with a maximum length of 400 mm. 

Most sensitive fisheries currently either have low daily bag limits or slot limits (where fish can only be taken between certain measurements such as a maximum and minimum size limit) to protect existing breeding stock. These tools are Fish and Game’s preferred option for carefully managing any sustainability and angling harvest concerns. 

The Upper Waimakariri area has been an exception to regulations that apply to key fisheries in the “Western Zone”, aimed at maintaining a high-quality angling experience by protecting larger trout (> 400 mm in length) from overharvest. This proposal to have a daily bag limit of 1 trout (with a maximum size of 400 mm) would see a quality angling experience and population sustainability better protected on key waterways in the upper Waimakariri catchment. In addition, this will help better protect the sustainably of larger trout (> 400 mm), which grow slowly in cold headwater areas and often approach or exceed 10+ years of age. 

The river and streams impacted by this proposal to reduce the daily bag limit to 1 trout (with a maximum size of 400 mm) are the Waimakariri River and tributaries above the Esk River confluence – including, e.g., the Esk and Poulter River systems, Cass Hill Stream, Cora Lynn Stream, and Winding Creek.

Lake Courtney removed as a junior fishery 

This area was designated as a junior fishery, hoping it could be stocked with fish for Junior and child anglers. However, unfortunately, this lake cannot be effectively screened off from the adjacent water bodies and the Kaiapoi and Waimakariri rivers downstream of it. Therefore, opening it all to anglers offers them another angling opportunity close to Christchurch in an environment they can take their families to.

Adjustments to the list of waterways designated as Coarse Fisheries 

  • Monopolies pond to be removed from Coarse fishery list.
    This fishery has become unsuitable for coarse anglers due to the effect of flooding and vegetation overgrowth, hence the proposal to remove it as a coarse fishery. 
  • Gravel and Sand ponds to be designated a Coarse Fishery
    This area offers the potential for coarse angling to take place in a location easily accessible by coarse anglers (with the obvious permission of the operator of the gravel extraction business there). In addition, the old gravel extraction ponds represent an artificial environment separated from any connection with other water bodies and is a short drive from Christchurch, allowing coarse anglers to fish close to the city in an environment that will not affect other water users. 
  • Remove the daily bag limit and maximum size limit for perch.
    Recent escalation in illegal releases of coarse fish in the North Canterbury region causes concern for native fish conservation, Fish & Game managers and iwi. Perch are currently managed as sports fish, but the regulations in North Canterbury are well out of step with other South Island regions.

    The Southland, Otago, Central South Island and West Coast regions have no daily perch limit. This is perceived to have helped increase the social licence of anglers with native fish managers and conservationists and reduced incentives for illegal releases.

    All coarse fishing is prohibited in the Nelson Marlborough region, which has been very effective in deterring illegal releases. 

Halswell River & Halswell Canal 

Currently, there are confusing regulations around fishing in the lower reaches of the Halswell River caused by a small mistake in the regulation's guidebook. The intention of previously proposed changes was to allow angling all year round in the lower section of the Haswell River and Canal while protecting spawning areas in the upper sections. Therefore, it is proposed that both the lower Halswell River and Canal are opened to fishing all year round, downstream of Neill's Road.

Aligning the season dates for key rivers and lakes feeding into Lake Coleridge 

Regulations for key waterways feeding into Lake Coleridge catchment are varied, causing confusion, in places overly restrictive, and do not match with many other South Island lakes that contain a mixed population of rainbow, brown and landlocked salmon. The proposed change will align the season start and closure dates between key lakes and rivers that are connected and feed into Lake Coleridge without significantly compromising protection for key spawning areas or the sustainability of harvest. If implemented, it would extend the fishing season slightly by allowing angling during May for some waterways, as outlined below.

This change proposes to improve clarity and access by aligning the start and/or closure date (1st Sat Nov - 31 May) for the following waterways and areas: (1) The Harper and Avoca rivers (including Lake Lillian, the Harper River Diversion canal and other tributaries), (2) the Ryton River and tributaries including Lakes Evelyn, Ida/Little Ida and Catherine (Monck), and (3) the Wilberforce/Oakden Canal. 

Submission timetable 

Anglers, licence holders and members of the public have till 5 pm 21 April 2023 to send in feedback and make submissions on the above items or any other points they might want to raise in relation to Schedule 2 of the Anglers Notice (which pertains to the angling regulations in the North Canterbury region).

Anglers can make their submission via email here. 

North Canterbury Fish and Game will hold a public discussion night at 6 pm on April 27 for submitters to discuss their submissions with staff and answer questions from the wider public. A summary of these discussions will be included in the information accompanying staff recommendations on regulation review to the Council for decision at their 24 May Public Meeting. 

We would like to thank all submitters for their input; we here at North Canterbury Fish & Game really value the feedback we get from anglers.

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