Furthering the public interests in the sports fisheries and
conservation values of the Upper Clutha catchment
The Trust

Clutha Development (Clyde Dam) Empowering Act 1982

Pre 1990's, the NZ Wildlife Service managed sports fisheries within the major southern lakes and held the view that the lakes formed by further hydro electric development planned within the Clutha River/Mata-au would be best managed as discrete fisheries. They considered that the new lakes would lack sufficient spawning areas to sustain fish populations and proposed that a sports fish hatchery be constructed in order to ensure that stocks could be maintained. Though the scale of hydro development was eventually scaled back to the one dam at Clyde, the hatchery requirement still stood and was imposed as a condition of the Clutha Development (Clyde Dam) Empowering Act 1982, passed by the Government in 1979. This required the Minister of Energy to "provide a sports fish hatchery for the purposes of re-establishing and maintaining stocks of sports fish in the lake above Cromwell and in the river reach below the dam".

However, the need (or otherwise) for a sports fish hatchery became the subject of debate. The general consensus among Fisheries managers was that natural recruitment would be sufficient to maintain a satisfactory sports fishery. This was eventually resolved, and a variation to the water right agreed too which allowed for the establishment of a Trust. A settlement was negotiated at $2,700,000, based on the funds required for the construction, and management, of a Hatchery for the term of the original water right. Thus the Clutha Sports Fisheries Trust was formally established in April 1992.

The Deed

The terms of the Trust Deed were carefully drafted by the interested parties.

The primary purpose was defined as being: 

To establish, maintain and enhance primarily the sports fisheries values and secondarily the conservation values of the waters of the Clutha catchment for the benefit of the people of New Zealand in recognition of the effects of the Clyde Dam development". 

The Deed also specifically bound the Trustees to firstly investigate whether a fish hatchery would be required to re-establish and maintain the sports fishery in the lake above Cromwell and in the river reach below the dam.

Download the Trust Deed here (PDF, 70KB)

The Trustees

The Trust Deed directed that the 'Board of Trustees' is to be formed from the nominees of the following bodies;

Fish & Game New Zealand......................One Nominee
Department of Conservation
...................One Nominee
Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries
......One Nominee
Otago Fish & Game
..................................Two Nominees

View more on The Trustees here

The Decision

In 1996 the Trust concluded that research to date indicated Lake Dunstan was, within its biological limitations, a self sustaining sports fishery which did not require artificial stocking. The research findings were passed onto Fish and Game Otago (the now statutory agency for freshwater sports fishery management) and Dr John Hayes of the Cawthron Institute (as an independent body) for evaluation. Both parties agreed with the findings which were then made public.

The Next Stage

During the initial five-year hatchery investigation phase, it was necessary to "inflation-proof" the core fund so that it retained the capacity to construct a hatchery should that be required. With this phase now completed, the Trustees resolved to continue this approach and to manage the fund in perpetuity.

In 1997 a decision to establish a staff position and office in Cromwell was resolved. With this move it was prudent to put in place various management strategies. A Five Year Management Planning Document in particular was developed to assist the Trust with direction as it entered into the expansion phase of the Trust Deed.
The Work of the Trust

The Clutha Fisheries Trust has no statutory authority to manage sports fisheries or conservation values within the Clutha River/Mata-au catchment; this is the role of the Otago Fish and Game Council (OFGC) and the Department of Conservation respectively. The deed dictates that the Trust focus is "primarily the sports fisheries values and secondarily the conservation values´┐Ż." The Trust therefore works more closely with the OFGC and together liaise over annual work programmes which meet the objectives of both. Activities are planned under core areas of Species, Habitat, Users and Advocacy and are funded from revenue derived from Trust fund investments.

Although the Lake Dunstan sports fishery has been the primary focus, the Trust has also contributed substantially to the work of the OFGC to undertake fisheries and angler survey work within Lakes Wanaka, Hawea, Wakatipu and many of the tributary rivers.

Anglers have derived many other direct benefits from the work of the Trust, ranging from the production of the fishing and access brochures, the provision of additional access to the waters of the Upper Clutha/Mata-au catchment, support to angling groups (especially young anglers), support of Take A Kid Fishing activities, imparting information about successful fishing techniques in Lake Dunstan's weed based fishery, and a range of other advocacy activities. The Trust has also ventured into a funding role, supporting Ph.D students to undertake research which is relevant to the Trusts core focus.

Looking Forward

Further investigative work and ongoing monitoring is still required on Lake Dunstan to ensure that the Trust maintains an intimate knowledge of the sports fishery (including anglers) and the ecological / social factors which influence it. However, work on identifying and establishing access, development of angling and access educational material, continuing support of research through the University of Otago and general advocacy will keep the Trust on task for the years ahead.

Relevant Documents

These documents are in PDF format.

Clyde Dam
Head of Lake Dunstan
Electro Fishing
Water Sampling
Take A Kid Fishing
Nevis River Invertebrate Study
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