Rare fish sinks dam

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A recently discovered rare native fish has saved the Nevis River behind Queens­town’s Remarkables mountain range from damming. 

An Environment Ministry tribunal this week allowed an application by the New Zealand and Otago Fish and Game coun­cils to vary the 1997 Kawarau water conservation order. 

The order protected the Nevis’ wild and scenic characteristics but didn’t prohibit damming. 

The Fish and Game councils sought a variation because Central Lakes Trust-owned Pioneer Generation has been considering hydro-electric schemes on the Nevis. 

The tribunal has allowed the variation due to the “outstanding value” of a small native Nevis fish, the Gollum galaxiid or “smeagol”. 

The “distinct species” wasn’t even known about at the time of the original conservation hearings, the tribunal states. 

“The river has a range of important values, it’s one of Central Otago’s treasures,” Otago Fish and Game boss Niall Watson says. Submitters have 15 days to appeal the decision to the Environ­­­ment Court.