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Mass dead fish reported in two separate incidents

2 min read
Mass dead fish reported

Hundreds of dead snapper washed up north of Auckland. Photo for representational purposes only. Photo: Adobe Stock

On 23 February, hundreds of dead snapper were found floating in the sea around Auckland, washing up on the city’s beaches, and now, a major fishing company has acknowledged that they could be to blame.

Moana New Zealand said one of its contract vessels could be responsible for the incident after it lost engine power while at sea, with the company saying the incident was “accidental, not deliberate.”

“The skipper and his crew had to haul the fish in without winch assistance, at times using a gaff to haul the gear. They split the bag several times to lift the fish over in several loads,” a company spokesperson was quoted as saying by NZ Herald.

“They were able to retain the majority of the catch, but unfortunately, some fish escaped the net when the crew were manually pulling the catch on board the vessel.

“The skipper was unaware of the amount of loss as he was working on restoring power below deck in the late evening.”

The cause of the power failure was unknown, the spokesperson said.

The company would be cooperating with the Ministry of Primary Industries in their investigation.

Fisheries NZ said the fish were expected to wash up on Hauraki Gulf beaches and have warned people not to eat the fish.

“For food safety reasons, it’s important that people do not eat any dead or dying seafood.”

Samples of the dead fish have been taken, said Andre Espinoza, acting director compliance at Fisheries New Zealand, which were all “legal sized, undamaged, and appeared to be in good condition”.

In a separate incident, the Department of Conservation received reports of dead fish, including tuna, in the Whanganui River catchment.

In a statement, DOC said the mass deaths of tuna, eels and other fish have been reported in the upper Whanganui River in previous years, typically in summer.

Jane Taylor, river restoration ranger at DOC, said, finding the cause of the mass fish deaths is like a ‘whodunit’ investigation.

“We need teamwork to solve this mystery. It’s especially important because the longfin eel, one of the species in the catchment, is at risk of extinction.”

The public are asked to report any observations of sick, dead, or dying fish to MPI’s pest and disease hotline (0800 80 99 66).  

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