The Ashburaton Guardian. Magna est Veritas et Prævalebit. MONDAY, MARCH 18, 1889. SALMON IN SOUTHLAND.
We referred the other day to the fact that shoals of fish, supposed to be salmon, had been Been m a tributary of the Aparima, one of the Southland rivers m which a large number of fry were liberated eighteen months ago It now appears that the supposition that the fish seen were salmon smolt was a correct one, a report from Mr Burt, ranger of the Otago Acclimatisation Society, read at a meeting of that body on Thursday last confirming the reports previously received. Mr Burt, who visited Jacob's river for the specific purpose ot ascertaining whether the fish reported to have been seen there were salmon or not, writeß : — " I arrived at Mossburn early on Saturday morning, and at once proceeded to one of the tributaries where the fry were planted 18 months ago. Mr Browning kindly allowed me to turn the greatest portion of the water into his water race, and that reduced the water m the creek for about 800 yards. I was quite surprised to find that the salmon were numerous, and instead of getting two I could have easily got as many hundreds, Mr Browning, who kindly assisted me, assured me that he had seen the fish I had caught m shoals, and on pointing the place out to me there was no mistake about it. I saw a very large number of salmon, some of which have assumed their smolt livery, and a very large number are m the parr -state. 1 put the two samples m glycerine, and have forwarded them to you, from which you will 6ee that the fish have thriven well. I believe the first fresh many thousands will go to sea, and I also believe that some may not go until next year, as they appear m the parr state referred to. It must be satisfactory to the Society to think that the fish have done so well, and the fact of them having been seen m such large numbers shows the great necessity there is for the Society to impress on the Fisheries Commissioners the great danger likely to result if netting is permitted m any part of the river. The mullet net used by fishermen would take every fish and prove most destructive. If the salmon are to be successfully acclimatised, this must be prohibited, and steps taken to protect the fish." The Chairman corroborated the information above quoted. He had seen the fish caught by Hanger Burt and stated that " they were beautiful specimens, about 7in long, and completely clothed m what was known as their ' smolt livery.' " He added that " the ranger was quite right m surmising that these fish would go down to the sea m the first fresh that occurred m the river. But the greatest part of the young salmon were not so far advance*?, and they would not go down till next year. 1 ' He also urged the necessity of putting a stop to rietr fishing m the river — a precaution for the safety of the young fish which cannot be too rigidly enforced. This no doubt the Society will see to, and it may be congratulated on the apparent promise of a successful outcome of its efforts to acclimatise the king of fishes m the Southland streams. We use the words, v apparent promise," advisedly, because it is yet too early to assume that final success is certain. Were the smolt above referred to the product of fry hatched out m the river from rids made by spawning salmon returned from the sea there could be pp doubt about the achievement of the crowning triumph of pisciculture m New Zealand, but if we understand the matter rightly this is not the case, the fish spoken of m the report of Hanger Burt being merely the fry liberated 18 months ago advanced to the smolt stage and which have yet to go to sea and return. No doubt, as the Ranger and the Chairman say, they will go to sea m due course, but the question is " Will they ever come back ?" Unless we are mistaken, salmon have before now on various occasions gone out of our rivers on their annual excursion to the briny but we have never seen or heard of any evidence of their return to fresh water. Whether this be due to the fact that the ocean surrounding New Zealand oontains so many enemies that all the salmon are captured and devoured or whether there are other conditions fatal to their survival we know not, but the fact remains that so far there is no record of a full grown salmon returning to the rivors to spawn. When this happens, but not till then we shall be able to write confidently of the final achievement of success. Meantime however the news just received is highly satisfactory, so far as it goep, and every pains should be taken to ensure that the smolt should not be interfered with and that the wished-for successful result of this greatest enterprise of acclimatisation shall not be imperilled by the indiscriminate conduct of pot-hunting fishermen to whom " All is fish that comes to the net.'-