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Council gives Makoura eels a safe habitat

Dave Hewitt, left, and Lance Buchanan, of Citycare, install gabion cages for eels in the Makoura Stream. PHOTOS/SUPPLIED

Masterton District Council has installed gabion cages to provide a safe habitat for eels in Masterton’s Makoura waterway.

The council worked with Greater Wellington Regional Council to have the rock-filled cages added to the stream, after work carried out on erosion near the Huia St footbridge reduced habitat for eels and other fish, and aquatic invertebrates.

The cages, supplied by MDC and installed and filled without charge by Citycare, are designed to give fish and invertebrates space to hide among the stones.

The NZ longfin eel pictured near the gabion cages.

The cages also contain pipes to be used as caves by larger eels.

“They’re designed to provide a habitat that replicates the natural conditions fish appreciate and help replace some of the habitat that was lost due to the erosion protection works,” MDC senior adviser Phil Evans said.

“Amongst the stones, fish and invertebrates will find it dark, and safe from predators.”

GWRC freshwater ecologist Alton Perrie said the gabion cages were a good solution to trial to help mitigate the habitat lost for the eels and other aquatic life.

“Eels, in particular, are a feature of the aquatic life in the Makoura Stream and are considered a taonga [treasure] by the community living beside the stream.

“Members of the community can be regularly seen congregating at the stream to feed and observe the eels.

“We hope the gabion cages will provide habitat to allow the eel population and other aquatic life to thrive.”

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