Fish & Game critical of "weak" government response to poor water quality
Fish & Game is critical of the government’s just-released consultation document on fresh water, saying overall it will weaken not strengthen existing environmental protection and is a smokescreen to hide backdoor efforts to undermine the Resource Management Act and Water Conservation Orders.
The consultation document puts forward more than 20 proposals the government says will improve New Zealand’s freshwater quality. Public submissions are now being invited.
Fish & Game says the document falls well short of what is need to address the growing threat of falling freshwater quality.
Fish & Game chief executive Bryce Johnson says it is an attack on the environment and the value of natural freshwater.
“When you look beyond the rhetoric, this document is all about furthering water-based development at the expense of the environment. There is no solid reference to recreation, food gathering or making rivers swimmable,” Mr Johnson says.
Bryce Johnson says the consultation document is a win for agriculture and a defeat for the environment.
And Mr Johnson says the time frames to exclude stock from waterways are completely out of step with public sentiment.
“Cattle don’t have to be fenced out of water until 2030. Dairy cattle aren’t completely excluded from our waters until 2025. This will just create a water pollution legacy for future generations.
“The recent public and media outcry over cattle in Lake Taylor clearly demonstrated New Zealanders’ thinking on this issue. Surely it is time the government made agriculture fully accountable for its adverse effects on the environment.
“The present plan is nothing more than continuing the environmental subsidy to farmers by leaving .taxpayers and ratepayers to pick up the hefty bill to clean up agriculture’s mess. The industry has to be made accountable for damaging the environment and should be required to cover these costs, not dump them on the wider public,” says Mr Johnson.
Fish & Game is shocked by the government’s plan to weaken Water Conservation Orders.
“Water Conservation Orders are the equivalent of National Park status for waterways, but the government wants to change the law to make them subservient to regional planning processes, the very process WCOs were created to sit above.
“This proposal would be the beginning of the end for Water Conservation Orders, completely reversing the hierarchy of the present law.”
Bryce Johnson says the government consultation document shows that the New Zealand public is being ignored.
“We believe there is a growing frustration among New Zealanders that the clean water they once took for granted is disappearing. They are increasingly angry that their birth right of being able to swim, drink and gather food from their rivers and lakes is being taken away from them.
“The public didn’t give permission for this to happen and the government would do well to listen to the people and work on protecting freshwater and the New Zealand way of life,” Mr Johnson says.
“With the demise of the dairy industry, the government needs to refocus on strengthening the New Zealand “clean and green” brand, and put the natural environment first. It should not be undermining it for further agricultural intensification to produce products we are struggling to sell in markets which are supplied by cheaper producers.”