Community to guard stream

Students from Orewa North Primary look for freshwater bugs. Photo, Sophie Tweddle

Thanks to continued funding from the Hibiscus and Bays Local Board, members of the Orewa community, supported by the Whitebait Connection, will once again be monitoring stream health on the Nukumea stream in Orewa.

Water quality testing last year indicated that stream health was being impacted by heavy sediment loads, particularly after rainfall (HM June 1). Two groups of volunteers will continue collecting water quality data at different points on the stream in 2018/19, so that trends in water quality can be identified, and any pollution incidents reported to Council.

Another element of the project is to identify areas with potential for inanga (a native whitebait species) to spawn. Inanga make up about 90 percent of a whitebait catch but have recently been reclassified as declining. Reasons for their decline include loss of adult and egg laying habitat in rivers and streams; in-stream barriers that prevent migration of juvenile fish from the sea into freshwater; predation of eggs by introduced predators; and declining water quality in our freshwater habitats.

On the Nukumea Stream, rats and mice have been identified as a potential threat to spawning success and it is hoped that targeted pest control during the spawning season will help improve egg survival rates. Dogs tracking up and down the stream banks have also damaged potential spawning habitat, and caused erosion. One idea is to get students from local schools, who have been studying the stream, to design signs explaining the importance of the stream and encouraging dog owners to keep their dogs on a lead.

The project has been extended this year to include a new site on the Coast – Stanmore Bay Stream.
Anybody interested in helping with water quality monitoring or fish surveys can contact Sophie Tweddle of Whitebait Connection, email sophie@whitebaitconnection.co.nz


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