Native threatened freshwater fish thrown a lifeline

A vital step towards better protecting indigenous freshwater fish was taken with today’s introduction of a new indigenous fish conservation bill in Parliament.

Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage said the Conservation (Indigenous Freshwater Fish) Amendment Bill amends the Conservation Act 1987 to provide a much-needed “modern toolbox” to help indigenous freshwater fish.

“Our indigenous freshwater fish are in trouble. New Zealand has 54 indigenous freshwater fish species and 22 of these are threatened with extinction. 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 and have gaps and changes are needed.

“The new bill will provide a more complete and effective toolbox to help manage indigenous freshwater fish.

“The bill amends the Conservation Act so that the Minister of Conservation can review and improve old regulations on fish passage and noxious fish such as koi carp 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.

“Other indigenous animals such as birds, and plants are safe from being killed within protected areas. Native fish are just as precious, and deserve the same level of protection in conservation areas.

“This change will support the growing momentum of efforts to protect native freshwater fish.

“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 public consultation and iwi engagement to help identify how to better manage restore our freshwater fish populations to health.”

Media contact: Maggie Tait 0273-469-570

Release on the New Zealand Threat Classification System report on freshwater fish released today is here.