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Auckland conservation effort for whitebait

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 7/06/2017

Around 10,000 native giant kokopu are set be released at an Auckland regional park in what organisers say will be the largest reintroduction of whitebait in New Zealand.

The experimental release at Tawharanui, near Warkworth, aims to establish two self-sustaining populations to support the national conservation of the endangered species.

Auckland Council environment and community committee chair Penny Hulse says protecting New Zealand native fish is important for maintaining healthy aquatic ecosystems.

"A diverse and thriving aquatic environment is important for supporting a rich natural array of plants and animals, many of which are found nowhere else in the world," she said.

The giant kokopu to be released on Saturday have been bred by commercial whitebait producer Manaki.

One of five whitebait species, giant kokopu can reach up to 60cm in length and 2.7kg in weight.

Senior ranger Matt Maitland said fish surveys by the council found they were no longer present in Tawharanui Regional Park or numerous other sites across the Auckland region.

"There has been a significant decline in the numbers of giant kokopu over the past two decades," he said.

"Nationally, this is likely to have been a result of habitat loss, water quality decline and land-use changes,."

He said that, by having a predator-free environment, giant kokopu would have a better chance of survival.

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