Brian Tian with his sixth salmon for the season, caught at
the Steamer Basin wharf yesterday. Photo: Stephen Jaquiery
''Skinny'' salmon caught in Otago Harbour may be
suffering from the same lack of food as Otago's yellow-eyed
Recent catches in the harbour had been skinny and the
heaviest fish at the recent salmon-fishing competition
weighed 6.01kg, which was usually the average size caught not
the biggest, New Zealand Salmon Anglers' Otago branch
chairman Wayne Olsen said.
''It's a bit of a concern. Something is happening in the food
chain, as they don't have a lot in their stomachs.''
Normally, signs of sprats and krill were noticeable around
the harbour and at Taiaroa Head but this year ‘‘there hasn't
been that food to make the salmon grow big'', he said.
Given yellow-eyed penguins were starving, the lack of
condition on sea-run salmon was further evidence of a gap in
the food chain, he believed.
The cause of the problems could be as simple as weather
patterns and it was too soon to say if there was an ongoing
problem, Mr Olsen said.
‘‘It could be just a poor season.''
There were signs other fish were doing well in the harbour
and he had even seen kahawai, a species he had not seen in
the harbour in about 15 years.
University of Otago ecologist Prof Steve Wing said salmon and
yellow-eyed penguins were important marine sentinel species
for the health of the ocean.
As both species needed to find food from the sea every day,
coming back skinny was a direct measure of what the ocean was
doing, he said.
Oceans were extremely variable in their productivity and
those patterns were not fully understood.
‘‘The only thing we can really say is if conditions are warm
or cold we can expect productivity to be different than