Years of work and a law change help pull dwindling salmon population back from the brink
A salmon at Manuka Point in the Rakaia’s upper reaches.
In the icy upper reaches of the Rakaia River, Fish and Game officers watch their efforts pay dividends from the sky.
Last year, the agency brandished the only weapon in its arsenal to turn around dwindling salmon numbers, and aerial counts in the high-country headwaters of Canterbury’s braided rivers show it could be working.
Fish & Game introduced a bag limit of two sea-run salmon per angler in Canterbury and North Otago for the first time this spawning season.
In 1996, the total annual salmon run for the Rakaia was more than 20,000 fish. By 2017, that number had fallen to roughly 2000.