Fish & Game staff and volunteers have spent three days salvaging almost 600 fish from Canterbury canals. It was part of a scheme to rescue fish that have entered the Amuri Irrigation scheme at its intake.
The scheme irrigates the Amuri Basin in North Canterbury taking water from the Waiau and Hurunui Rivers.
The team spent hours in freezing waters, combing canal systems on the Waiau River so all fish could be recovered.
The fish were mostly trout, but also salmon and 60 native eels were recovered. The fish ranged from small fingerlings about a year old to full-grown adult fish.
"We're very grateful to the volunteers for turning out in the cold to give us a hand," says Fish & Game communications advisor Richard Cosgrove.
Fish & Game use an electric fishing machine, stunning the fish and drawing them out from under the rocks so staff can net them.
They say the fish recover in seconds, and are placed in an oxygenated holding tank and released into the river system downstream.
The operation is part of Amuri Irrigation's resource consent to operate the system, which stops water entering the canals at this time of the year so they can carry out maintenance on the scheme.
Farmers stop irrigating around this time of year, so water levels remain low for the rescue to team to access.