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Anglers in North Canterbury can now fish rivers that would normally be closed at this time of year.

The Covid-19 lockdown meant anglers were unable to use the last six weeks of the traditional fishing season.

The North Canterbury Fish and Game Council successfully asked the Conservation Minister for an amendment to the Sports Fishing Notice, which means local anglers can now fish the Waimakariri, Ashley, Hurunui and Waiau Rivers until September 30.

North Canterbury Fish and Game Council chairman Alan Strong says it is great news for anglers who had lost fishing opportunities.

“The extension of the season will be a welcome relief during these stressful times, and we encourage people to enjoy the spectacular freshwater fishing opportunities that the North Canterbury region has to offer, as well as to allow them the chance to go out and catch a trout for the table.”

The regional organisation’s chief executive, Rasmus Gabrielsson, says for the past four years most waterways in North Canterbury have closed at the end of April and, as a result, the reduced winter season (May 1 to September 30) offered fewer opportunities compared to most other South Island regions.

“This lack of winter fishing opportunity is something that North Canterbury Fish & Game is looking to rectify long term, through a review of the fishing regulations for next season.

“However, the council deemed it appropriate to consider allowing more opportunity sooner.

‘‘So, we applied to the Minister of Conservation for a one-off amendment and extension to the current fishing season.

‘‘These are extraordinary circumstances that certainly justify practical adjustment to ensure anglers get some local recreation opportunities to get into the outdoors.’’

The extension applies to a selected number of waterways, close to population centres, which gives anglers the opportunity to fish locally and close to home in keeping with Covid-19 conditions.

The waterways and lower sections of larger rivers included in the application were carefully selected to ensure that no known major spawning areas are put at risk.

Because important spawning areas are protected, it is not considered any additional harvest pressure, or angling opportunities, will risk endangering the long-term ustainability of sports fish populations.

Fishers can fish downstream of the confluence of the Staircase Stream with the Waimakariri River, downstream of the Ashley Gorge Road on the Ashley River, downstream of the confluence of the South branch with the Hurunui River, and downstream of the confluence of the Hope River on the Waiau River.

In addition to this one-off extension, the North Canterbury region will also undertake a wider angling regulation review later this month. More information on proposed regulation changes will be available on the Fish & Game website from May 18.

Anglers are invited to make submissions in writing to be considered at its June 17 meeting.