Native fish helped on their way

More than 2.6 million elvers, mostly shortfin eels, were transferred upstream of Trustpower’s Matahina Dam in the Bay of Plenty in the 2018-2019 season. Hundreds of kōkopu fish (banded, shortjaw and giant kōkopu) were also transferred.

Trustpower’s Lead Environmental Advisor, Christopher Fern, says successful fish transfers have been undertaken in the Rangitaiki River catchment for more than two decades by the Kōkopu Trust founded by the late Bill Kerrison.

“Matua Bill sadly passed away earlier this year but his legacy continues through his family, who finished the transfer season that he started,” says Christopher.

“Over the duration of his trap and transfer programme, Bill transferred millions of elver and native fish each year.”

Bill’s dedication saw him honoured as a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to river and wildlife conservation.

To assist the fish transfer work, Trustpower’s generation team has designed an upstream fish passage prototype based on the same concept as an Archidemes screw water pump. Instead of transporting water, it will move native fish and elver upstream.

The prototype has been shared with iwi, the regional council and other stakeholders and it is hoped it will be operational for the next upstream migration season.

Successful fish transfers have been undertaken in the Rangitaiki River catchment for more than two decades by the Kōkopu Trust founded by the late Bill Kerrison.