Close up of inanga whitebait
Image: Stephen Moore | Manaaki Whenua - Landcare Research | ©


In very limited circumstances, the Orders in Council allow Waka Kotahi and KiwiRail to transfer live aquatic life.

The agencies may only transfer or release fish and live aquatic life within the same reach of the water body - basically just out of the works footprint. Any more significant fish salvage operation must be planned in consultation with DOC and other relevant regulators under the Biosecurity, Fisheries and Resource Management Acts.

Fish and aquatic life can be taken in accordance with the exemption from regulation 21 of the Freshwater Fisheries Regulations 1983, or section 26ZHB(2) of the Conservation Act 1987. Section 26ZHB(2) also allows fish and aquatic life to be released within the same reach.

Regulatory approval under the Order is only required where that the transfer site lies within a conservation area, reserve, wildlife refuge or sanctuary, or covenant or kawenata area.

Application for approval for transfer or release of live aquatic life must include:

  • a description of the proposed activity, including:
    • the reason for the transfer or release
    • the legal authority under which the fish or aquatic life will be taken
    • a map of the water body identifying the proposed take and release areas, and any barriers to fish passage above, below, or between those areas
    • the name of the conservation area, reserve, wildlife area, or covenant or kawenata area where release is proposed, and evidence of agreement of the person or entity with legal authority for that area (if not the Department of Conservation)
  • an assessment of the potential effects of the proposed activity, including:
    • known and predicted freshwater ecosystem and fishery values of the water body, and species to be released
    • any potential adverse effect on taonga species, and how that will be managed; and
    • any actions that the applicant proposes to take to avoid, remedy, or mitigate any adverse effects of the proposed activity
  • details of any consultation in addition to that required by Schedule 5
  • relevant information about the applicant, including any information relevant to the applicant’s ability to carry out the proposed activity.

The application must also include a report on iwi consultation undertaken in relation to the proposed recovery work. The report must include:

  • the names and contact details of Māori entities the Agency engaged with
  • the names of entity representatives who attended the meetings, and the dates of those meetings
  • a summary of the meeting discussions, including any concerns raised about the potential adverse effects of the proposed recovery work on taonga species known or predicted to be in the area
  • the Agency’s responses to any concerns raised.

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