Troutfishing Lobby Backs River Protection Calls.
A national trout fishing advocacy, the NZ Federation of Freshwater Anglers, has backed calls by the Tourism Industry,
the Environmental Defence Society and Department of Conservation to safeguard public rivers.
Just last week, the government announced a further $1.6 million worth of funding for three irrigation schemes.
The calls came from the Tourism Export Council that New Zealand’s tourism could be harmed by continuing and increasing
exploitation of rivers for irrigation while the conservation department has warned that government plans to alter the
Resource Management Act will cut the public’s rights to object to water exploitation. Statutory organisations with
responsibilities for freshwater management, such as Fish & Game NZ, would also be affected.
Ken Sims of the Manawatu and spokesman for the Federation of Freshwater Anglers said the calls were very timely in the
face of government continuing to dogmatically push for more large scale irrigation using taxpayer’s money, and to make
it more difficult to oppose this exploitation. “Given the timing, it is difficult not to see this as a Government
response to their plans for the Ruataniwha Dam being partially thwarted” he said.
“It should not be forgotten that these rivers are public resources and not up for grabs by corporate dairying or other
commercial interests. Statements by John Key and Nathan Guy today would indicate that both cannot yet see that rampant
agricultural intensification is the problem, not the solution. Besides the current slump in dairy prices that looks set
for some foreseeable time, makes for economic lunacy as well as environmental and ecological vandalism,” he said.
He said government had long signalled its disregard for rivers and its obsession with exploitation when it proposed
lowering river quality standards from fit for swimming to fit for boating and wading. ‘After all you could boat in a
sewage pond and (in waders), wade in a cesspool,” he said.
Ken Sims said government intentions were short-sighted monetary greed.
“What legacy will be left for future generations?”
He said he was deeply disappointed that legislation to lower water standards came from present or recent past
government’s environment and conservation ministers thereby demeaning their portfolios.