Illegal salmon release in lake alarms rangers

MATTHEW LITTLEWOOD
Last updated 05:00 05/04/2014
chinook salmon
SALMON HUNT: Central South Island Fish and Game suspects someone has been illegally releasing chinook salmon into lakes.

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The hunt is on to find those responsible for an illegal release of salmon in a Canterbury lake.

Central South Island Fish and Game chief executive Jay Graybill said he was following up leads after chinook salmon were found in Lake Camp, inland from Ashburton.

Information gathered so far indicated those responsible were likely from South Canterbury.

"We heard about the presence of salmon in Lake Camp during the fishing season. At first we were sceptical, as there was no prior record of salmon being in Lake Camp," Graybill said.

He said those responsible could be fined up to $10,000 for breaching the section of the Conservation Act which prohibits "transfer or release of live aquatic life" without prior approval.

"We don't know how many were released, or when those responsible did it, but it's a great concern to us because it undermines our organisation's credibility and potentially affects the lake's biodiversity."

The illegally released salmon were confirmed after Fish and Game rangers caught several in their nets during a site inspection at Lake Camp a fortnight ago.

"We take our releases of sports fish very seriously, so for someone to do this is of great concern to us," Graybill said.

"Someone in the angling fraternity will know who carried out this action. We will follow up any leads with the view of taking a prosecution. Such blatant disregard for our fisheries and responsible anglers cannot be ignored."

Graybill said although chinook salmon were present in the main alpine rivers, the streams leading to Lake Camp had low intake flow.

"The sheer number of low-flowing streams the salmon would've had to travel through makes it extremely unlikely they would have got there of their own accord."

Graybill said the salmon netted averaged about 250mm, well under the 300mm size limit for salmon.

CSI Fish and Game had also informed the Ministry for Primary Industries about the illegal release.

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- The Timaru Herald

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