Fishermen out for escaped salmon

EVAN HARDING
Last updated 10:27 13/02/2014
Adam Bedggood
JOHN HAWKINS/Fairfax NZ

SIGH TIDE: Bluff man Adam Bedggood fishing off Bluff wharf where locals have been catching salmon. Thousands of fish escaped from a Stewart Island salmon farm before Christmas.

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Bluff wharf has been crowded with recreational fishermen this summer after news spread that thousands of salmon escaped from a salmon farm on Stewart Island.

Sanford general manager of operations Greg Johansson confirmed yesterday that at least 10,000 fish escaped from a ripped net at the company's Big Glory Bay salmon farm during a storm before Christmas.

The escape has been a hot topic in Bluff, with many people fishing off the town's wharf to catch some of the fish.

Johansson said Sanford was insured for the loss and he was pleased to hear people had been trying to catch some of the escaped fish. "They might as well enjoy them, they are out there... good luck to them."

The escaped fish were not fully mature but were well developed and would taste good, he said.

The exact number that escaped from the huge net cage suspended in the sea at Big Glory Bay would not be known until the remaining tens of thousands in the cage were harvested.

There had been occasional salmon escapes from the company's nets but he was unaware of other major ones.

"It's unfortunately one of those things. You get rips. The equipment is well maintained but it was a reasonably severe storm and something catches the net."

Bluff locals yesterday confirmed higher numbers of salmon had been caught from the wharf this year than previous years, but some believed they were wild ones.

Bluff man Niki Whaanga said he had caught about a dozen since early December, but said their tails were not rounded from swimming around the nets.

He had caught more salmon from the wharf, using lures as bait, this summer than in previous years, he said.

Southland Fish and Game manager Maurice Rodway confirmed a "sure sign" of identifying a farm salmon was if its tail fin was worn, as opposed to pointy.

It was not unusual to catch wild salmon from the Bluff wharf as they swam into the harbour from Foveaux Strait to feed, he said.

Adam Bedggood, who was fishing off the wharf yesterday, said it had been a good summer for salmon fishing there. He had seen salmon swimming past but had not caught any due to limited fishing opportunities.

"It's been quite tight on the wharf. There have been people here for miles."

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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