by Tony Orman
Recently I found an article in a now defunct magazine, “Southern Fishing And Boating.”
Twenty years ago in the November 2000 issue of the magazine Wayne McCallum, North Canterbury Fish and Game’s Environment officer, warned of a crisis facing New Zealand’s lowland waterways.
Describing it as “a wholesale crisis,” Wayne identified the problem as “a decline of trout densities across a mounting list of New Zealand’s lowland waterways.”
He cited the “on-going tragedy of the Selwyn River brown trout fishery” where, in the 1940s, trapping of the Selwyn’s spawning run, conservatively estimated numbers of well above 40,000 fish but by 1985 (the last time the run was counted) , the recorded figure was a staggering low 309 fish.
He identified the demise of the extensive rappia weed beds in Lake Ellesmere , water pollution, sewage, abstraction of water and drainage works as likely adverse factors.
Then he looked at the Horokiwi Stream near Wellington. In the 1950s, the Horokiwi was the focus of a comprehensive and notable trout stream study by K Radway Allen. Radway Allen measured trout densities in excess of 70 fish per cubic 10 metres along the main reaches of the stream. But a NIWA study done about 2000 was a shock – trout had become virtually non-existent in the waterway.
In other words the trout population had gone from a healthy state to being virtually extinct in little over 50 years. Wayne McCallum said in 2000 pointing the finger at local body and central government, that “perhaps the biggest factor causing frustration is the failure to acknowledge the existence of a crisis at all.“
Where have we got to in 20 years since North Canterbury’s Fish and Game officer Wayne McCallum gave his strong warning?
The Selwyn River with Protest billboards