January 14, 2015
Mussel rope helps eels back home
Kahungunu hapu Ngati Kurumokihi is hoping a rope ladder will revive the population of eels in Lake Tutira and its catchment.
Hoani Taurima says his grandfather taught him how to catch eels from an early age to help feed the whanau and guests at Tangoio Marae, but it hasn’t been possible in recent years.
Hawke’s Bay Regional Council freshwater scientist Dr Andy Hicks and Matthew Brady from Department of Conservation identified the problem as being a steep ravine and 30 metre waterfall at the lake’s northern outlet into Mahiaruhe Stream.
“Elvers are remarkably good climbers and had been managing to make their way up the falls until 15 or 20 years ago, when either a single weather event or gradual erosion changed the shape of the waterfall enough to prevent even elvers from scaling the ravine and accessing the lake,” says Mr Brady says.
The solution is a length of mussel spat rope running down the damp rock beside the waterfall, away from the full force of the water.
If it doesn’t work, the community may try a trap and transfer approach as is used in other parts of the country.
As the elver run is over the next few months, the HBRC, DOC and hapu team will return later this summer to see if there are any small eels upstream.
The council is asking people to identify other fish barriers in the region such as culverts perched above the level of water. They can be reported to www.fishbarrier.co.nz.
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