Fish Passage Restoration Work Underway

Tom Anderson
Wai Kōkopu Restoration Manager

Wai Kōkopu is teaming up with ATS Environmental and Bay of Plenty Regional Council to improve “fish passage” – the ability of native fish to move up the catchment’s streams as they migrate in search of habitat and food. Culverts and bridges can be barriers to fish passage where:

  • They are “perched” above the downstream drain, creating an impassable waterfall.

  • Long culverts with no bed material may flow too quickly for our small native fish, with no eddies in the culvert where they can “catch their breath”.

Tom Anderson and Donovan Boucher (Bay of Plenty Regional Council) are currently visually assessing culverts and bridges throughout the catchment. Fixing any barriers found in the catchment will begin in May. Fixing barriers to fish passage is simple – low-cost solutions installed on culverts like mussel rope, fish ladders and flexi-baffles are easy to install, long-lasting, and don’t affect culvert function (see photos below or some awesome videos here). What’s more, these solutions are fully funded by Wai Kōkopu and Bay of Plenty Regional Council so will be at no cost to landowners – a win-win for everyone.

Many native fish species like inanga (whitebait), tuna (eels) and kokopu are declining nationwide. All of the great wetland and streambank restoration and retirement that’s been happening throughout the catchment in recent years is creating an ideal habitat and cleaner waters for our native fish. Restoring fish passage is therefore a critical piece of the puzzle to ensure native species can access new and existing habitat and begin to increase in number. By reconnecting native fish to habitat upstream using these low-cost solutions, we can ensure the arteries running through our catchment, connecting the mountains to the sea, flow freely once more.

Keep an eye out for the team in the catchment – we may be knocking on your door soon to assess your property’s river crossings and feel free to make contact with us around this important work.


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