Title: Exotic Intruders

Author: Joan Druett

Publication details: Heinemann, 1983, Auckland

Digital publication kindly authorised by: Joan Druett

Part of: New Zealand Texts Collection

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Exotic Intruders

The Waitaki Valley Acclimatisation Society

page 102

The Waitaki Valley Acclimatisation Society

This Society is a recent example of the trend towards absorption of small societies into larger organisations as it becomes economically unsound for individual small societies to remain in existence. In 1967 the Waitaki Valley Acclimatisation Society was formed by the amalgamation of the the Waitaki Society (established 1877) and the Waimate Society (first formed in 1888). Both founding societies had been deeply involved in the acclimatisation of quinnat salmon; both had identical aims—the conservation of salmon fishing resources. Economics was the deciding factor that pushed them into amalgamation.

The present Society involves itself in waterfowl habitat improvement, with a programme of planting hardy shelter trees, and the management of Canada geese, waterfowl and game birds. But its main preoccupation is with freshwater fishing, which, in the opinion of this Society and of other societies is endangered by large hydro-electric power schemes in the lower Waitaki. In January 1980 two representatives from the Council were invited to a meeting at Kurow with senior power planning engineers from the Ministry of Energy, MAF Fisheries Research staff, the Waitaki Commission Engineer and Soil Conservator, and Dr Scott from Otago University.

Mr Fenwick, the President of the Waitaki Valley Acclimatisation Society, was adamant that the only way of maintaining the existing salmon run in the river and the present trout fishery was an amenity channel from the river mouth to the Hakataramea River. He pointed out that a salmon run could not be maintained by using fish ladders over dams. He was supported in this by Dr Glover of Canada, who said the quinnat salmon run in the Columbia River Scheme had been virtually wiped out by dams with fish ladders as very few fish would use them.

'Over the years numerous development schemes have substantially altered a large number of our rivers,' wrote Mr Fenwick in a letter to selected anglers, 'resulting in a cumulative loss of high quality angling waters. It has become increasingly obvious that if we want to retain even a few valuable recreational fisheries, we must identify those rivers which, in our opinion, should not be modified, and be prepared to fight for them.'

Counting tagged fish.

Counting tagged fish.

page 103