Hopes to restore fishing contest

Port Otago wants to work with the organisers of a cancelled fishing competition to make sure one is held next year.

The Otago Salmon Anglers annual fishing competition was cancelled after Port Otago announced it planned to close the X/Y wharf and the Leith wharf, both near Fryatt St, to the public.

Port Otago chief executive Kevin Winders said the cancellation of the competition was unfortunate but as the wharves were working areas, safety was paramount.

"The window we have is a wee bit hard to manage to lock off operating wharves and provide that to the public would really conflict those core businesses we have to support with our port."

Mr Winders said he wanted to meet the anglers association to discuss a solution that would work for everybody.

Space was made available at the Victoria T/U wharf for the competition but the organisers decided not to go ahead, Mr Winders said.

"We understand their decision and want to work with them to see how we can work in the competition for next year."

While some wharves used by anglers were being closed by the end of the year, a new fishing wharf at the end of the new 150m multipurpose wharf should be completed by the end of the year.

Otago Salmon Anglers president Colin Williams said the organisation did not blame Port Otago for the cancellation and was keen to work with the port to discuss how the event might be held in the future.

"The committee has made the difficult decision to cancel this year’s competition because those wharves will no longer be accessible."

Although there were still wharf areas available, such as the city end of the Harbour Basin, the competition would put too much pressure on the fish stocks in those areas, he said.

Between 250 and 300 anglers signed up for the competition each year and the money from entry fees, usually between $4500 and $6000, was used to buy 30,000 salmon smolt each year to release into the Water of Leith and Lindsey Creek.

Mr Williams said they would still release smolt this year but  would need to rely on money from grants for it.

In lieu of the competition, the association would put up a cash prize for the heaviest salmon caught and weighed before March 31.

tim.miller@odt.co.nz 

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