Hicks, B. J., Bell, D. G., & Tana, R. (2014). Boat electrofishing survey of fish abundance in the Ohau Channel, Rotorua, in 2013 (ERI report). Hamilton, New Zealand: Environmental Research Institute, Faculty of Science and Engineering, The University of Waikato.
Permanent Research Commons link: https://hdl.handle.net/10289/12477
The aim of this survey was to provide on-going monitoring of the fish communities and abundance in the Ohau Channel, especially fish species that are taonga to Maori (eels, goldfish, and koura). In the current study we present the findings from the seventh year of sampling (2013) in view of previous surveys using boat electrofishing in the Ohau Channel. We used the University of Waikato's 4.5 m-long, aluminium-hulled electrofishing boat to catch a total of 1,025 fish (20.3 kg) from 11 sites comprising 2,817 lineal m and 11,484 m² in area on 27 November 2013. Common bully were the most abundant fish species (57% of the catch) followed by common smelt (36% of the catch). Goldfish had their highest biomasses in the lower channel, especially at site 10 near Lake Rotoiti (up to 7.25 g m⁻²). Catch per unit effort (CPUE) for common bullies exceeded smelt CPUE at all sites except site 1, reflecting their greater densities. CPUE for rainbow trout was variable between the sites, and greatest at site 3. The abundance of common bullies in 2013 reversed the apparent trend of reducing abundance since these surveys started in 2007. The cause of fluctuating bully abundance is not known, and was not accounted for by water clarity expressed as black disc distance (BDD) or water conductivity. Poor water clarity can reduce the efficiency of electrofishing, but BDD was greater in 2012 than in 2011 when common bully densities were lower. In 2013, the apparent decline in smelt abundance was also reversed, but the relatively inefficient sampling resulting from boat electrofishing for these two species should be considered. The increased goldfish biomass in 2011-2013 arose because of targeted fishing in the excavated side branch, which clearly offers good habitat for goldfish. Removal of goldfish in the previous years may have reduced the density in the excavated side channel (site 11) compared to previous years. In 2013, a shortfin eel was caught, following the first shortfin eel encountered in the Ohau Channel in 2012.
Environmental Research Institute, Faculty of Science and Engineering, The University of Waikato
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