Botched Mudfish transfer shocks Fish & Game
Reports that nearly 1000 native fish have died in a botched transfer project costing ratepayers $160,000 have horrified Fish & Game.
The project that involved the recent transfer of 921 rare black mudfish organised by Carterton District Council under expert advice provided by Council consultants has resulted in virtually none surviving.
The wetland site at Daleton Road, Carterton is also used to discharge partially treated wastewater from the District Council Wastewater Treatment Plant.
Fish & Game were perturbed by recent comments from freshwater ecologist Angus McIntosh that were implying that trout could have been the cause of fish loss.
Wellington Fish & Game Manager Phil Teal notes that there are no trout at the site, and the failure was much more likely to be from poor habitat.
"This is a classic diversionary 'red herring' tactic to deflect attention away from a flawed process and mismanagement of an at-risk native species," Mr Teal says.
"Fish & Game have purchased and managed thousands of hectares of wetland not only for waterfowl habitat but for native fish habitat.
"We know what the habitat requirements are for native fish, and a Fish & Game senior scientist even advised the project co-ordinators last year that this project was not advisable, but his concerns were dismissed. Sadly, his predictions were proven correct."
The public should be demanding answers from the Council.
"We are keen to know how this project got the go-ahead, who was responsible for providing management advice and funding approvals.
"An independent inquiry by the Department of Conservation is needed. This must cover the approvals, pre-release assessments, and investigating how the funding for this conservation project was managed.
"If any member of the public had caused the loss of nearly 1000 mudfish, which have been compared by fish experts as rare as Great Spotted Kiwi, then there would be severe consequences.
"This is $160,000 of ratepayers' money that would be much better used on meaningful conservation projects that would benefit all fish habitat."