It’s Time to Move On!

CSI Fish & Game Responds on the Status of Deep Creek – It’s Time to Move On! 

Jay Graybill, Chief Executive of Central South Island Fish & Game Council responds to the post by Steve Gerard entitled “Another Canterbury River Degraded” in an attempt to clarify the status of Deep Creek, correct misconceptions about CSI actions and end the “war of words” about Deep Creek.

Mr Gerard’s concerns are similar to his complaint in August 2014 entitled “Stream to be Left Degraded”.

At that time Mr Graybill prepared an open letter to summarise the status and actions regarding Deep Creek.

This was circulated to fishing stakeholders and individuals in September 2014 (one club refused to provide it to its members after providing Mr Gerard’s release) and to at least 6 media outlets that Mr Gerard had taken his complaints to and that requested information.

So what has happened since?

Mr Gerard was elected to the CSI Council where he put his case to intervene and place an in-stream stop bank to divert the flow of Deep Creek. After several robust debates the CSI Council re-affirmed its position on Deep Creek to not undertake intervention measures.

This was on the basis that the braided stream should be left to natural channel-shaping forces, that obtaining a consent would be opposed and therefore costly, and constructing a diversion would be costly and obtrusive in an iconic landscape.

Mr Gerard recently took his complaint to the Minister of Conservation in two letters (A second CSI Councillor also wrote to the Minister) and to the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment. Neither supported his position.

Mr Gerard then sought “independent” advice from Dr John Hayes of Cawthron Institute. Dr Hayes is a recognised expert on the biology and food and habitat requirements of trout and salmon with an international reputation.

In an email addressed to Mr Gerard dated 16 February 2016 Dr Hayes states and I quote:

“Judging from the photographs I thought that the original channel, now receiving less flow, should provide good juvenile salmon rearing habitat. Jay told me that CSIFGC staff confirmed this with a field visit. On the other hand you say that good adult trout habitat and fishing opportunities have been lost in the original channel and has not been compensated for by alterative habitat and fishing opportunities in the diversion channel – it being too fast and narrow. I think this is likely to be a temporary feature. I note that the diversion channel is roughly the same length (maybe a bit shorter) as the original channel and flows over similar terrain. But it is steeper in in some parts. I also note from the photographs that bank erosion is occurring in some parts. This is what I expect to happen – the diversion channel is evolving, cutting into the banks, and bed where it is constricted and steep. I expect that over time the channel will become more sinuous and therefore longer, the bank material will be reworked into gravel bars (providing spawning habitat), and habitat will become more heterogeneous (i.e., varied – with deep edge pools with undercuts flowing into shallower wider runs and riffles). In the long run I expect good spawning habitat will be formed and also good adult trout habitat – not much different from what was provided by the original channel. Rivers are very good at restoring themselves without human intervention and so my recommendation is to be patient.”

In my and the CSI Council’s view Dr Hayes’ advice comes from an eminent expert on trout and salmon and is very persuasive. I would like to think that with this advice the matter of intervention is closed and it’s time to move on.

Jay Graybill

Chief Executive, CSI Fish & Game