Fish and Game give floodplain guidance

By Emily Norman emily.norman@age.co.nz -
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Greater Wellington Regional Council (GWRC) cross blading the Ruamahanga river at Martinborough bridge last summer. PHOTO/FILE
Greater Wellington Regional Council (GWRC) cross blading the Ruamahanga river at Martinborough bridge last summer. PHOTO/FILE

Fish and Game are looking to futureproof Wairarapa river ecosystems by "contributing as much as [they] can" to the Upper Ruamahanga River Floodplain Management Plan, says Wellington manager Phil Teal.

Mr Teal is attending a GWRC subcommittee meeting in Masterton today to discuss floodplain management options with subcommittee members after he publicly expressed concerns for river ecosystems last month.

Mr Teal said that as a result of the cross-blading technique used by regional council for river management, the river had become a "barren channel, adversely impacting valued sportfish, like trout and native species alike".

"Fish and Game certainly understands that the flood protection purposes of protecting life and also protecting property is important and valid," Mr Teal said.

"But one of the necessary considerations is making sure the environmental aspects, which are well known and can be incorporated, are taken into consideration.

"Cross-blading creates a situation where the habitat is destroyed for the bugs that live in the river.

"There's almost nothing living there and it can take some time to repopulate," Mr Teal said.

"We've just had concerns that in some of the areas it's been over a year since the cross-blading has been done and it still looks quite low in aquatic insect numbers. Therefore the fish that feed off the insects are also affected."

Greater Wellington Regional Council invited Mr Teal to the upcoming workshops for the Te Kauru Upper Ruamahanga River Floodplain Management subcommittee to provide input into the development of flood and erosion risk management options

"The Flood management plans are quite important in determining a direction of management and the look and health of the river, so it's important that we have a dialogue," Mr Teal said.

"In the past, we've put submissions in and given information to the regional council, which provides alternatives with the Waiohine Flood management plan.

"Then it comes down to the subcommittee considering those options and deciding what level of emphasis they put on those," he said.

"We're just asking that the river design that the engineers come up with allows for better environmental outcomes and that our suggestions will be taken up or at least certainly considered."

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