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How will they be removed? 660 barriers to migrating fish identified in Kapiti Coast rivers and streams

News from Greater Wellington Regional Council
The regional council has identified 660 fish passage barriers in Kāpiti Coast waterways across public and private land, a project that involved local iwi to ensure our native freshwater fish can migrate and spawn.

Our region’s waterways are home to around 20 species of native freshwater fish, and most need to be able to move freely between the sea and freshwater in order to complete their lifecycle. Unfortunately, some man-made barriers in waterways can stop fish from accessing suitable habitat, resources and completing their lifecycles.

This project employed seven rangatahi to work alongside a field expert to gain access to range of waterways in the Kāpiti Coast to collect data on instream structures and determine if they present a barrier to fish passage.

The council’s environmental science senior advisor and project manager Penny Fairbrother says the council had an amazing response from many private landowners with waterways on their property who were keen to get on board and help their local fish.

“164 private property assessments were completed, and around 68% of the fish barriers the team identified fall into the medium to high risk categories for fish passage,” says Penny.

“Predominantly, high risk barriers are culverts or pipes that have a high drop until meeting the water. Out of the 165 high-risk barriers assessed, 155 were culverts.”

“It was essential that we investigated fish barriers from a catchment, bigger picture scale because waterways are all interconnected, rivers and streams make up entire systems for fish migration,” says Penny.

Information collected on fish barriers will help to prioritise future work on public and private land to remove or fix the barriers, and help native fish to migrate.

“Currently, the council is developing an action to remediate fish barriers, and we’re seeking government funding to help, so this work is important to understanding and prioritising the worst affected areas,” says Penny.

This is a partner project with Ngāti Toa Rangatira, Te Ātiawa ki Whakarongotai and Ngā Hapū o Ōtaki.

Kapiti Coast councillor Penny Gaylor says: “We want to say a big thank you to everyone who worked with our team on this project, you’ve helped make a difference to the environment in your backyard and beyond.”

“With around 70% of native fish species at risk of, or threatened by extinction – projects like these are crucial to protecting our fish populations and supporting our region’s biodiversity,” adds Cr Gaylor.

For more information on fish barriers, visit: http://www.gw.govt.nz/providing-fish-passage/

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