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A proposal to lower fishing bag limits on Lakes Dunstan, Hawea, Wanaka and Wakatipu and the Poolburn dam was ditched after heated debate at the Otago Fish and Game Council meeting in Cromwell yesterday.
The proposed changes formed part of the Anglers Notice (regulations governing angling in Otago) review being undertaken by the council. Submissions closed earlier this month and 57 were received.
The recommendation to reduce bag limits on several lakes and rivers came in response to concerns about whether high levels of harvest were necessary or sustainable.
Reducing the Poolburn bag limit from three fish a day to two drew the most debate. It was supported by most submitters, who commented on the need to conserve fish stocks.
Ian Cole said the spot was becoming more popular. Fish were "hard to find".
But Dave Witherow said: "If there's no evidence the fish population is being decimated, we should leave it alone."
The council agreed to retain the status quo of three fish a day.
A proposal to drop the bag limit from six fish a day to four on Lakes Dunstan, Hawea, Wanaka and Wakatipu also failed to win support. Three-quarters of the submitters had supported the reduction.
Councillors voted to include the Hunter, Young and Wilkin Rivers among those where anglers require a back-country licence. It plans to gazette the Hunter as a back-country fishery for 2011-12, and the Wilkin and Young within three years.