July 16, 2016 River Wreckers wipe out trout…? River Wreckers Wipe Out Trout in NZ A short piece from the New Zealand Federation of Freshwater Anglers – How Tasman District Council’s policy of ripping out tree willow from river banks and re… youtube.com (2013 photo above illustrates a small indication of miles of continued river “environmental vandalism” by WRC) The above story from TRM’s facebook received some feedback yesterday from somewhat shocked Tongariro anglers on their annual plundering pilgrimage to fish the world famous spawning runs – in the form of “What about the damage to the Tongariro?” Fortunately the Tongariro trout migrating up river from Lake Taupo are biologically driven and completely bullet proof… The miles of willows that used to grace the high banks were thoughtfully removed by WRC (Waikato Regional Council) years ago. These willows obviously restricted their easy access up river and gave the trout delightful cool places to rest and hide from anglers. So the wise WRC – after consultation with the even wiser fishery managers, DOC (Department of Conservation), wiped out all the willows. The additional debris fallen in the river raised the river bed so then the WRC compounded the problem by quarrying metal and gravels from the best parts to supposedly reduce the flooding risk. These of course were the natural gravels that were part of the largest most valuable brown trout nursery in NZ. Fortunately the brown trout are also bullet proof and will find other places to spawn where the river is not being used for a quarry. Now all the banks have collapsed into the river which in turn wiped out the anglers access tracks down river. These had taken many many years to develop and maintain but all have now collapsed and any foot access down the lower river is now practically impossible. But even if an angler managed the difficult tramp, the high banks and long grass make spotting and fishing impossible. So the anglers use terms like “environmental vandals’ but obviously do not understand the Council’s and DOC’s pure motives. Then of course is the added excitement of the wild livestock down river that have eluded capture. But Tongariro anglers are not frightened by them… Whilst Tongariro anglers sympathise with the South Island anglers, WRC and DOC assure us that our trout migrations are not affected in any way. But anglers claim they just turn around and find somewhere else to spawn, which gives us valuable information and a reason to rebuff complaints when anglers return empty handed from their fishing trip down river. SWMBO just blames the Council and DOC… Angry anglers anti-river rocking video makes waves HELEN MURDOCH Tasman District Council’s use of rock to stabilise river banks is criticised by freshwater anglers Supplied Tasman District Council’s use of rock to stabilise river banks is criticised by freshwater anglers A specialist in river channel protection says Tasman’s use of solid rock walls for river bank protection is out of line with international best practice. NZ Federation of Freshwater Anglers president David Haynes recently released a video voicing fears on declining trout numbers on Facebook. (River Wreckers Wipe Out Trout in NZ) Haynes said declining fish numbers in rivers, like the Motupiko and Riwaka, represented a near total collapse of the fishery. The removal of riverbank willow in favour of rock banking had turned rivers into featureless drains, he said. His views are backed by Richard Brunton, a New Zealand water resources engineer currently working in Canada. Brunton said simple rock revetment was best suited to steep headwater streams and rivers. But it could reduce fish feeding opportunities, tree shading, undercut banks (leading to loss of cover and safe fish refuge, particularly in flood events), food production potential, resting and holding pools and spawning habitat. Lowland slow moving streams and rivers were better managed by the use of live willow stakes, anchored tree roots, riffle pools sequences, rock vanes, bendway weirs and log vanes – all of which had been around for many years internationally with proven results, he said.. “A non-vegetated boulder revetment is my last resort in high energy systems. It just takes a little bit of clever design work and analysis to incorporate ecological function into these designs. “The key here is for ecological advocates to have a seat at the table in assisting the decision makers in setting minimum standards and approvals of these designs.” In the video Cawthron Institute ecologist Robin Holmes said trout needed varying current flows to drift feed. Rock created long homogenous walls in smaller systems which reduced current diversity. Nelson- Marlborough Fish and game manager Rhys Barrier said he could not comment as Fish and Game and the council were in mediation over the council’s river works consent. However, he backed the anglers position. Council spokesman Chris Choat said its focus had shifted since 2012 to employing a range of options to manage erosion, but these were reduced in areas where space was limited or levels of service high.