Mass death of fish under spotlight



Otago Regional Council (ORC) is still investigating what led to the deaths of about 150 fish in Queenstown’s Horne Creek on Saturday, but suspects a pollution spill’s to blame.

One of the fish was a native galaxiid, the remainder were brown trout.

It’s not the first time the waterway’s been contaminated — in November 2015, a still unidentified pollutant was discharged into Horne Creek killing 50 juvenile fish and last
August the creek turned neon green after plumbers’ dye was poured into it as a prank.







Fish & Game Otago officer Bruce Quirey says more needs to be done to raise public awareness around the issue, suggesting fish markers on stormwater drains — used in Wānaka — might be useful.

Visual reminder: Metal markers around stormwater drains in Wanaka

‘‘It’s clear there needs to be a concerted effort in the Queenstown Lakes district to ensure people know that what they put in the gutters ends up in our waterways.’’

Saturday’s incident occurred when brown trout are spawning, and as larger fish are migrating up from Lake Whakatipu, the consequences for sports fish are higher, Quirey says.

‘‘It’s equally disappointing native fish and juvenile trout have been killed.’’

ORC compliance manager Tami Sargeant says regardless of the cause, ‘‘anything that can cause this scale of death will be unpleasant for the animals concerned’’.

Anyone with information can contact ORC’s pollution hotline.