Salmon rescue mission a success in Canterbury

Fish & Game have undertaken an unusual rescue for a bind of 50 salmon trapped in a dead end on Canterbury's Waimakariri River.

Their volunteers donned diving gear to pull the fish to safety, in the fight to get the river's salmon population healthy again.

A team of volunteers organised by Fish & Game had the difficult task of rescuing the fish.

Fish & Game officer Steve Terry says "They've been migrating up the stream to spawn in the high country, it's the peak of the spawn right now, and they've come up, and the water's changed sides."

Divers worked with waders in the shallows to stretch a net across the bottom of the pond, dredging the two metres of water and one by one pulling the salmon to safety. 

Volunteer Ron Stewart says "Those fish would have been lost to the fishery, and now they'll produce three or four thousand eggs each."

At this time of year salmon run up Canterbury's braided rivers, from the Pacific Ocean to lay their eggs

It's thought these fish got stuck when Cyclone Debbie hit New Zealand three weeks ago.

They'll be taken to a hatchery on the Rakaia River with the hope they'll go on to spawn.

Every one counts as the salmon fishery is struggling after a long drought sapped Canterbury's rivers.

"There's not as many fish in the rivers these days, so it is critical we try to keep as many as we can," Mr Terry says.

The 50 rescued salmon could potentially spawn as many as 60 to 70 thousand offspring.

A small group of volunteers have made a big difference to this year's run.


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