Sustainability concerns prompt fishing ban at Upper Tekapo Canal

Sustainability concerns for trout in a prized South Island canal have prompted drastic measures.  

Anglers will be banned from fishing in the Upper Tekapo Canal in the Mackenzie District for next winter's entire fishing season.

The spot is favoured for its clear waters and is unique for the ability to see spawning trout, but it's no longer a secret.

"Last year there was a guy here from France, he fished here for a whole month," says angler Mike Button.

Fish and Game officer Rhys Adams says five seasons ago, that section of the canal was a secret spot - but now, "it's common to see 30 anglers there any day of the week".

Next winter, though, the banks will be bare, with the Central South Island Fish and Game Council enforcing a three-month ban.   

"We're doing it as a conservation-minded measure to protect spawning, the fishery is under immense pressure," says Adams. 

And local anglers are backing the decision.

"There has been talk for quite some time that it is overfished here, so let's give spawning fish a chance," says angler Dave Kitching.

There are also several ongoing research projects to understand trout migration and the canal fishery.

The decision means anglers will have to find another favourite fishing spot while trout numbers recover.