There are 13 species of non-migratory galaxiids in Otago; however, not many people know that they actually exist.
Some of them are critically endangered.
Unique native fish are being eaten by well loved sports fish. It created a great deal of controversy for many organizations and people who are dealing with freshwater management in New Zealand, because they need to find a way for both species to co-exist.
Many issues were raised about the impact of trout on freshwater fauna of New Zealand and ways to prevent the loss of unique species. All agree that biodiversity should be preserved; although price, scale of protection actions and methods needed to insure galaxiids survival are still undecided.
Galaxiids don’t have legal protection.
Departmant of conservation is bound to protect native species on its land (national parks, reserves), but majority of Otago galaxiids live on private land. This situation makes it up to the landowner to protect native fish on his/her territory or not.
The future of galaxiids is not clear.
Regarding trout removal related to native fish protection, DOC is removing, or plans to remove, trout from several headwaters. In these sites trout are under 150mm in size and already mature, so they will not grow bigger and have no value for anglers. DOC picks up these fish and brings them where Fish and Game wishes to place them (So there is no loss for anglers.) The first example of trout removal in Otago was the case of safeguarding a population of Eldon’s galaxiids in Akatore Creek. DOC, with Fish and Game agreement, removed 3 km of trout above a natural barrier in Akatore Creek by electrofishing (Dale, Ravenscroft, Interviews). Fish and Game have also agreed to the same sort of effort in the Waipori area and they have agreed to trout removal in the Kye Burn (Dale, Ravenscroft, Interviews), and possibly in the Cadrona as well, sometime in the future (Dale, Interview). A few farmers have had the ORC and DOC electric fish their waterways in high country; some even requested DOC to come themselves (Webster, Interview).
Farmers have allowed Contact Energy to fund putting fences up along their waterways (Webster, Interview).. At some streams in Otago, extensive water take has created separation between galaxiids on one side and trout on another. Decreasing water take in those areas would allow trout to spread and destroy native fish populations. The ORC has identified several such areas, and farmers’ high water takes will be continued in those areas even under new RMA regulations. These areas are in some tributaries of the Taieri, Ida Burn and Bannock Burn in Manuherikia catchment (Dale, Interview).
Currently, awareness campaigns consist of field days, where farmers are told about freshwater habitat and fauna protection by the ORC and DOC, and DOC’s initiative called “Growing Otago Galaxiids”. This is a project is aimed at partnering up farmers and local communities around galaxiid protection.
1. NZ Threat Classification System lists 2008-2011 (Allibone 2010)
Lists from the 2008-2011 listing cycle were published in independent peer-reviewed scientific journals.
This classification does not provide legal protection.
2. Listings by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). "GALAXIIDAE"IUCN included Galaxias species form New Zealand under various categories of concern (Table 1, adapted) (McDowall, 2006)