Canal work saves thousands of fish

The fish salvage operation of the Tekapo canal winds up. Photo supplied.
The fish salvage operation of the Tekapo canal winds up. Photo supplied.
Thousands of fish have been successfully removed from the Tekapo canal with ''virtually no mortalities'', as part of preparations for a $125 million repair of the canal's leaky lining.

Genesis Energy last week completed a two-week fish salvage operation before it started repair work on the canal to future-proof the operation of the Tekapo A and B power stations. Genesis Energy chief executive Albert Brantley said about 800 trout and salmon had been recovered.

Mr Brantley said the operation, which was carried out with the aid of Ngai Tahu and the Cawthron Institute, also recovered ''a few thousand'' small native bullies and two large eels.

The largest fish caught was a 8.6kg brown trout, he said.

Fish and Game Central South Island chief executive Jay Graybill complimented Genesis for the way it had conducted the operation.

''It was a well co-ordinated operation and inclusive of all the key stakeholders. The Tekapo canal has become an important fishery for our anglers and the Genesis Energy effort recognises its high value.''

Fish and Game Central South Island officer Hamish Stevens said recovery of the fish had been done using electric fishing equipment. He said it was straightforward with virtually no mortalities. Trout and salmon were released to other sections of the canal and native fish relocated to local streams and rivers.

- andrew.ashton@odt.co.nz