Fish & Game applauds tourism industry call for government action on water quality
Fish & Game is congratulating the tourism industry for its stand over the government’s continuing failure to address New Zealand’s deteriorating water quality.
The Tourism Export Council has expressed its dismay at what it sees as weak laws which are supposed to protect rivers, lakes and streams, saying New Zealand waterways are suffering abuse as a result. And it is warning that the present publicity over cattle in high country lakes and river is “a disaster” which will impact on the tourism industry and the economy.
The council’s CEO Lesley Immink says the photos of cow herds defecating in lakes, rivers and streams are a “marketing nightmare”.
The Tourism Export Council is now calling for the government and the Tourism Minister John Key to recognise the value clean water has for both the tourism industry and New Zealanders and make it a national environmental priority.
Fish & Game’s Chief Executive Bryce Johnson is congratulating the council for taking what he describes as “a strong and courageous stand”.
“For too long, tourism has been silent on an issue which if not fixed actually threatens its very existence. I am pleased at least one arm of the industry is now prepared to stand up and be counted,” he said.
“But where is Tourism New Zealand and the Tourism Industry Association?
“Tourism earns New Zealand billions of dollars in revenue every year from overseas visitors keen to experience our country’s beauty and scenery. The economy can’t survive without that income, yet the government is failing the tourism industry and all New Zealanders by not urgently introducing tougher water quality rules.
“Our two biggest industries – tourism and agriculture – cannot survive without clean water, yet the government is failing to act decisively. Ironically, this is allowing one to threaten the other’s existence.
“At the very least, preserving water quality should be a straight commercial decision to protect New Zealand’s internationally unique point of difference and ability to earn a decent income from both sectors”, Mr Johnson says.
Bryce Johnson says over the last seven years, the Land and Water Forum has given the government more than 200 recommendations on how it can improve water quality but practically nothing has happened.
“One of those recommendations would address the Lake Taylor situation by excluding cattle from all waterways. The problem is the Land and Water Forum didn’t believe this should happen until 2030 and this un-necessary delay played a part in Fish & Game’s decision to withdraw from it late last year”, he says.
Bryce Johnson says the media storm which has erupted over the photo of cattle in Lake Taylor shows the depth of public feeling on the issue.
“This week’s explosion of public frustration and anger over local government’s failure to even enforce the water quality rules which already exist shows the government cannot afford to dither anymore. Fish & Game says it supports the Tourism Export Council’s call for the government to make clean water legislation a national environmental priority.
Note: The Tourism Export Council’s concerns can be read here; http://www.voxy.co.nz/business/5/242266