Warning About “Alarming” South Canterbury Freshwater Fishery Decline

A former Fish and Game NZ chairman and currently Central South Island Fish and Game councillor Matthew Hall has sounded a loud warning about the region’s fishery decline.
The report came from Stuff February 6, 2021, written by journalist Mathew Littlewood.
Matthew Hall, a CSI Fish and Game councillor since its creation in 1991 recently told the Central South Island Fish and Game Council  that the region’s trout and salmon resource is a sharp state of decline.
“It would be a fair guess that only five per cent of the coastal sports fishery now exists, compared with 30 years ago,” he said.
The signs were based on trends that within thirty years the salmon and trout fishery would be virtually gone.
Matthew Hall called for action  instead of reviews, audis and “soul searching” paperwork.
“Fish and Game can do as much internal soul-searching and audits as they like, they can have a prized set of standing orders and governance policies— but what they cannot do is control the resource the statute requires them to manage. They must point the finger at others and have them recognise they are killing the sports fish and game resource.”
He recalled his experience during a recent visit to the Rangitata River, where he witnessed “the stench of death” at a site where there is usually a bird colony.
“Hundreds of birds were lined along the water’s edge, none were feeding … there was no food, no smelt run, and this was plain to see.”
“Never have I seen the river to produce insufficient food for their survival. This was both alarming and distressing.”
Stark Contrast
Matthew Hall said the state of the volunteer-run McKinnon’s Creek hatchery, a few kilometres upstream of the Rangitata River, was appalling.
“McKinnon’s Creek today, particularly the lower section is stained brown by aquatic weed growth a stark contrast to the way the creek once was,” he said.
Most lowland rivers and waterways in the Central South Island were “compromised” and “no longer support sustainable fisheries and recreation”.
Environment Canterbury councillor Dr Elizabeth McKenzie, who attended the meeting as a member of the public, said she shared the organisation’s concerns about the decline of the fishery.
“I feel like everyone is measuring, measuring, measuring while everything is dying, dying, dying,” McKenzie said.
“I think we’ve got enough evidence now. We actually do need to do something. We should approach our new Conservation Minister.”
“ECan has only just started on our journey, but I worry it’s going to be too late.”


Matthew Hall –  fishery is in a sharp decline


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6 Responses to Warning About “Alarming” South Canterbury Freshwater Fishery Decline

  1. Tony Orman says:

    Well done Matthew Hall.
    I’m not detracting from Matthew’s brave warning but sadly it’s nothing new. Twenty years ago, Wayne McCallum, North Canterbury Fish and Game’s Environment Officer, wrote in the November 2000 issue of the magazine ”Southern Fishing and Boating” about lowland trout rivers and said that “on careful study, there appears to be more than a problem. Rather the evidence points to a wholesale crisis.”
    He said “the crisis is demonstrated most graphically to anglers in the decline of trout densities across a mounting list of New Zealand’s lowland waterways.”
    Wayne McCallum’s expert views received little or no comment. The impression was that Fish and Game and North Canterbury in particular, did not want to know about it.
    There was “a state of denial”
    Wayne McCallum obviously felt the same. He wrote “perhaps the biggest factor in causing frustration is the failure to acknowledge the existence of a crisis at all.”
    The NZ Federation of Freshwater Anglers has been sounding the warning too over several recent years, for example a list of “lost rivers” and the Canterbury nitrate testing work by president Peter Trolove and Rex Gibson. The question is what has Fish and Game NZ and regionally been doing in the 20 years since Wayne McCallum’s loud warning shout?
    What has Department of Conservation been doing? Waterways are native fish habitat too. Both are guilty of “blind eye” syndrome and denial.
    Well let’s hope and remind the authorities, that Matthew Hall’s cry deserves urgent attention and action. It needs strong advocacy. Having cups of tea accompanied by buttered scones with strawberry jam with Federated Farmers and Fonterra, won’t address the crisis.

  2. Peter Trolove says:

    Canterbury’s braided rivers have been destroyed through over allocation/abstraction and from Ecan’s single focus on irrigation.
    The scientists employed at Canterbury’s water allocation hearings have contributed to the harm through framing their unreliable evidence to suit the interests of the corporations who hired them.
    These “experts” swore under oath that they would abide by the Handbook for expert witnesses in the Environment Court” It is now evident that either knowingly or unknowingly they did not.

  3. Zane Mirfin says:

    Alas, the sad & toxic consequences of corporate and bureaucratic ‘wilful blindness’ that has robbed every recreational New Zealander.

  4. Marcus Antony says:

    What’s the saying something like “Nero Fiddles While Rome Burns”?

  5. Graham Elwell says:

    Hi Everyone , Apart from sucking the guts out of our Waterways & Rivers to water crops Etc. we have the extra unneeded problem of Algal Blooms !! mostly caused by the tragic ” Overuse ” of all Ag/ Hort Chemical & Fertilizer ? As BIG CHEM like their Cobbers BIG OIL just do as they please ! /////// Using FREE Bs & Bs to CON Landowners & Farm Managers to purchase much more product than they actually need ? so It’s dumped by overs spraying ! so can they rush back for the free gifts ! ///// Buy MORE ? get free Parka & Hats ( with their logo of course ) or in the Draw for a New 4×4 ! I knew a Vineyard Manager who actually saved most of his Free Bs for Christmas Gifts ? // The sad result is that our water Quality is out the window ! until we address this we are chasing Rain Bows ! make no mistake , //////// Our Rivers are being hit with two problems reduced levals & far too much Ag Chemical ///// Just as a guess having worked in that Industry , I would say they could get away with a reduction of least a THIRD & not loose any production !! ///// Many Thanks

  6. Grant Henderson says:

    The reported comments by Matthew Hall look at the current dire situation. I think Peter Trolove’s response pinpoints the cause of the problem. Intensive dairying on land unsuited to that form of agriculture has got to go.

    Fonterra started free milk for school pupils in 2013. The state of the Rangitata river, Selwyn river and Lakes Ellesmere, Forsyth and Waihola (among others) shows the true price those children are being made to pay.

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