Eel of a problem moving to new ponds

By Gary Caffell

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I have a confession to make.

Not for the life of me could I understand all the fuss being made about the management of the resident tuna (eel) population once the new ponds being constructed as part of the Homebush wastewater treatment plant are commissioned.

And if I was being completely honest I still don't.

It's not that I have a death-wish for the 80,000 eels which could be living in the old ponds, it's just that the wisdom of spending good money on their transfer from there to the new ponds is difficult to comprehend at a time when belt tightening is the name of the game.

Especially when I am being constantly told by people, who should know, that the eels won't actually need any outside assistance to shift house, they are quite capable of doing it under their own steam.

Maybe it is different at Homebush.

The new ponds there are being lined with a high density polyethylene material which is smooth and slippery when wet and apparently mature eels may find it difficult to climb this liner.

So to help them on their way intentions are to lay a coarse artificial matting in one of the ponds which will allow them to gain purchase and successfully relocate.

And if that doesn't work there are at least another couple of proposals which I won't detail here because of a lack of space other than to say that a "trap and transfer" process would likely be the final act.

Ignorance might be bliss but in this case I would certainly like to hear just why these eels have suddenly become so important.

It is known, for instance, that Ngati Kahungunu and Rangitane have taken a keen interest in their continued survival and it would be interesting to have them spell out just why that should be.

I don't doubt their sincerity one iota but it would be nice to know the motivation behind their concerns.

And I have heard the eels are vital to the workings of the treatment plant, perhaps somebody could explain that too ... please!!!!

Gary Caffell is a Masterton district councillor.

- WAIRARAPA TIMES-AGE

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