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by George Clark

Fish & Game councils are asking anglers to participate in the annual sea-run salmon harvest survey that is about to be undertaken around the South Island.

The survey comes at a critical time when sea-run salmon populations are at depressed levels and Covid-19 Alert Level restrictions could compromise the ability of Fish & Game to carry out annual population monitoring in the field, such as helicopter-assisted spawning surveys.

The survey covers all sea-run salmon rivers of the South Island’s east coast, spanning from the Wairau River in the Nelson/Marlborough region to the Clutha River in Otago.

Marlborough, North Canterbury, Central South Island and Otago sports fishing licence holders will be contacted directly via the email or phone contact details they provided at the time of purchase.

The sea-run salmon survey identifies the number of anglers that target sea-run salmon each season and the number of salmon they harvested.

The total annual harvest is estimated by applying that information to all licensed anglers so it is important that as many anglers as possible participate in the survey.

Initially an online survey will be sent to licence holders by email.

Survey manager Jayde Couper, of Central South Island Fish & Game, said it was easy for anglers to complete.

“The online survey only takes a few minutes for most anglers to fill in and provides critical information for Fish & Game to manage the sea-run salmon fishery.”

Following the online survey, a phone survey will be undertaken to interview those anglers who are not active on email.

“I encourage all anglers that receive the online survey to fill it out even if you didn’t go sea-run salmon fishing or went sea-run salmon fishing but didn’t catch a salmon. There are additional benefits for fisheries management if anglers participate in the online survey.”

Monitoring of the sea-run salmon harvest has extra relevance this season as new restrictive regulations were introduced last year to allow a higher proportion of salmon to reach the spawning grounds by restricting angler harvest.

Anglers should check their email in-boxes for the online survey in the next few days or anticipate a phone call over the next two months.

The eastern South Island’s sea-run salmon rivers are a destination for many anglers who travel to fish highly valued sea-run salmon rivers such as the Rakaia and Rangitata.