This makes a very pleasant change from the usual negative stories about dairying:
Dairy farmers are getting praise from unlikely quarters after the most salmon in 40 years have been seen spawning in a small stream in the middle of dairying country.
After identifying good salmon catches in the area during the angling season and higher spawning rates in lowland streams than normal, fishery officers did a spot check at the spring-fed Waikuku Stream, expecting to see little salmon activity.
In a small stretch of the stream which feeds into the Ashley River they found about 35 salmon and as many nests – redds – containing thousands of eggs.
Among other theories for the high salmon count, Fish & Game New Zealand think the main reason is the work of dairy farmers to fence, plant and protect the stream.
South Island spokesman Andrew Currie said it was pure chance they found so many salmon spawning in the stream and farmers deserve the credit.
“In a 200-metre stretch I walked there were at least 25 to 35 redds and that augurs well for the fishery because each one of these nests contains 3000 to 4000 eggs and we can see the day when the Ashley River returns to a good run. What was particularly pleasing by the find was that the stream was in the heart of a dairy farm.”
Currie said the “textbook” spawning site had free-running water, nice overhangs, little weed and an exposed shingle bed and was an example of top riparian planting by farmers.
“I think a lot more farms in Canterbury could have the same in their backyard if they had similar plantings and fencing.
“This is proof that dairy farming and Fish & Game can co-exist. . .
That is refreshingly positive and is appreciated by Federated Farmers:
Federated Farmers is thrilled to hear Fish and Game acknowledge the massive positive effect farmers Good Management Practice (GMP) is having on our waterways.
“Headline news in the Christchurch Press today reports farmers riparian management has resulted in the sighting of the most salmon seen spawning in 40 years, an acknowledgement that is huge for the farming community,” says Ian Mackenzie, Federated Farmers Water & Environment Spokesperson.
“The 35 salmon, nests and thousands of eggs found in the Waikuku stream, was smack bang in the middle of dairy farming land. Feeding into the Ashley River, this bountiful Canterbury stream is testament to allowing reasonable timeframes for farmers to fence and riparian plant their waterways.
“It is encouraging to see the results of farming coexisting with its waterways and heartening to have it acknowledged by Fish and Game. This is not an isolated event with similar reports in Ashburton of large numbers of salmon spawning in Spring Creek, tributary to the Ashburton River.
“This article is timely as I sat down to listen, after speaking at the New Zealand Primary Industry Summit today. It was the perfect parallel to reflect on the big picture of our industry and the correlation that it has with the economy. We are looking for ways to move forward in a sustainable way, as the most successful exporters in the world, but we have to make it right at home first and this is proving to be challenging.
“Each regional council is interpreting the requirements for the National Policy Statement for Freshwater management differently and in some cases every catchment, which will lead to an implementation nightmare. Whilst every region is different there needs to be a cohesive approach here and a standardisation of what is required.
“What we are seeing in the Waikuku stream, Spring Creek, and numerous others throughout the country, could be tenfold with a consistent and organised approach from Central and Regional Government,” concluded Mr MacKenzie.
Farming and healthy waterways which foster fish aren’t mutually exclusive.
Sustainability balance economic, environmental and social concerns and is achievable with good management practice from landowners and councils.