22 Jun 2019

Salmon 'crisis' causes catch limit to be halved in Canterbury rivers

11:51 am on 22 June 2019

A fall in salmon populations means anglers will be allowed to bag just one fish a day in Canterbury rivers.

Man stands on small wooden jetty on edge of murky river by small wooden boat

North Canterbury Fish and Game chairperson Alan Strong says reducing catch limits will lead to long-term gains in salmon stocks. Photo: Fish & Game

North Canterbury Fish and Game chairperson Alan Strong said limiting angler harvest was the most effective way to address the salmon crisis.

Fish and Game hopes the move will increase the number of salmon reaching spawning streams by 10 to 20 percent.

"We have to play the long game with salmon," Mr Strong said.

"Our changes won't cause an overnight turnaround but it's a bit like compounding interest, the longer we do this the more benefit there will be for anglers."

Fish and Game will campaign for regional councils to play their part in increasing salmon numbers, by taking actions such as fixing ineffective fish screens.

"The burden of restoring the salmon fishery cannot be borne by anglers alone, so we will be challenging ECan to be doing its job, especially around compliance," Mr Strong said.

Many factors were reducing the sea run salmon population, such as climate change, water abstraction, ineffective fish screens, and warmer ocean temperatures, Central South Island Fish and Game chief executive Jay Graybill said.

"Fish & Game has worked for decades and continues to work on aspects critical to the sustainability of the salmon fishery including by-catch of salmon at sea, the loss of juvenile salmon to irrigation and water takes, the enhancement of spawning habitat and the supplementation of the wild fishery with hatchery releases," Mr Graybill said.

Daily bag limits for salmon in North and South Canterbury will be the same for the first time, as will the fishing season length for salmon, which will run from December to March.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs