Special permits needed for aquatic work

Our aquatic environments are increasingly in the public gaze: people want to know whether or not water quality and aquatic life is being adequately protected.

Fortunately, our ecologists can act quickly on behalf of our clients to find the answers because Boffa Miskell already holds the various permits and approvals that may be required from the Ministry for Primary Industries, the Department of Conservation and Fish & Game NZ.

First, Boffa Miskell holds a special permit which allows our ecologists to capture and handle aquatic life such as fish, snails and insects in both freshwater and marine environments. Second, we have approvals that allow us to use an electric fishing machine to capture and handle freshwater fishes and to relocate fish to different locations within the same environment if required.

“Having these permissions already in place gives our clients a head start so they can focus on things like consultation and engagement that are often required,” says Boffa Miskell ecologist, Dr Tanya Blakely. “We can help with that, too, through our well-established relationships with staff in the relevant agencies, and we can assist with the further approvals sometimes required where fish have to be relocated to a new stream or catchment.

“When we work on aquatic projects, we contact our local MPI, DOC, and Fish & Game offices to let them know we’re doing the work. We also engage with the local rūnanga and sometimes extend an invitation for them to join us in the field to watch electric fishing of native taonga species, such as longfin eels.”

The special permissions are required for a variety of work. Fish and invertebrate surveys provide biodiversity and water quality data, used for the surveying and monitoring that Boffa Miskell has been carrying out in Christchurch waterways for the Christchurch City Council, and for Tauranga City Council’s State of the Environment monitoring. Surveys are also used to establish baseline statistics for ecological assessment and monitoring of development projects such as the Camp Adair wastewater management and the Kā Pūtahi Creek realignment consequent on the Christchurch Northern Corridor motorway development.

Electric fishing, which is just one of a number of techniques available for surveying and catching fish, involves temporarily (and harmlessly) stunning fish by running an electric current through the water. Our staff who carry out this work are certified to use the technique having completed specialist NIWA-run training. It is useful for catching and temporarily relocating fish while construction works take place before being replaced in their home environment or relocated to other suitable receiving environments, as was done during the M2PP expressway construction on the Kapiti Coast and the Western Belfast Bypass project north of Christchurch.

When construction started on the Western Belfast Bypass, time was of the essence and Boffa Miskell’s preparedness was valuable, as Fulton Hogan’s National Environmental Manager – Infrastructure, Omar Seychell explains.

“On contract award, Fulton Hogan had a tight timeline. Utilising the services of an aquatic ecologist who already held MPI permits, and DOC and Fish & Game approvals to take fish, meant that there was no need to delay critical enabling works where works in waterways and associated fish trapping were required.”

For further information please contact Dr. Tanya Blakely

26 September 2016