Native threatened freshwater fish bill passes first reading

A bill to better protect indigenous freshwater fish passed its first reading in Parliament today.

The Conservation (Indigenous Freshwater Fish) Amendment Bill amends the Conservation Act 1987. The bill enables the Minister of Conservation to review and improve regulations on fish passage, and develop regulations to address threats such as damage to fish spawning sites and fish being killed by activities such as drainage works and pump stations.

“Just under half our indigenous freshwater fish are threatened with extinction,” said Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage.

New Zealand has 56 indigenous freshwater fish species of which 22 are threatened. Whitebait, freshwater and lamprey fisheries have declined dramatically over the past century.

“The Conservation Act and the existing regulations dating back to 1983 are inadequate, have gaps and changes are needed.

“The new bill will provide a more complete and effective toolbox to help manage indigenous freshwater fish, taonga species important to iwi, and noxious fish like koi carp.  We don’t allow kiwi, kaka and other indigenous wildlife to be killed in protected areas and native fish need the same protection.

“Communities are improving fish passage by ensuring culverts don’t provide a barrier, planting along stream margins to help restore aquatic habitats and fish spawning sites.  Earlier this year national guidelines on fish passage were released.

“I look forward to the select committee process. It will be an opportunity to refine the bill if any clarification is needed on how any overlaps between managing indigenous fish and managing sports fisheries are best dealt with.”

Today’s vote was unanimous.