WATER NOT FOR SALE

Water and rivers surely is destined to become a major election issue at this year’s election And rightly so because water is so vital for us all whether town or country. It therefore is important that all New Zealand pursues a policy to have “sustainable” use of water and that essential quantity for the ecosystem and essential quality is maintained and in some cases restored.

One aspect which must be paramount in debate is not let water go the way of fishing quotas where quotas are tradable. Your last issue featured about the flaws in the tradable quota fisheries system.

Being tradable opens the way – as has happened in fisheries – for bigger players, i.e. corporate companies to buy up smaller players’ allocation and thus emerge as monopolies in the use of the resource. Despite the self-promotion by MPI that our fisheries quota system is the envy of other countries it has been revealed to be seriously flawed. No wonder fish stocks are often struggling. However the offenders, corporate companies wield strong political influence by way of donations to political parties resulting in their interests being paramount rather than the best public interest. Above all the resource suffers from mismanagement.

It is imperative that water not be allowed to become a victim of “wheeling and dealing.”

Each election year the Council of Outdoor Recreation Associations (CORANZ) puts out an election charter which is sent to political parties. Water and rivers feature strongly. One is that “residual flow must be adequate for wildlife and fish and recreation such as fishing, swimming, canoeing etc.” Water is for multiple use by the community at large.

Despite John Key’s nonchalant shrug that “water belongs to no one” line, water belongs to the people. Water is essentially a public resource, regardless of wealth, ethnicity or social class. Law should be enacted now to make it crystal clear that water cannot be sold and hocked off to the highest bidder.

Andi Cockroft, Co-chair, CORANZ
(Council of Outdoor Recreational Associations of New Zealand

Government Freshwater Management Document Labelled Deceptive

A government document on freshwater management has been termed confusing and inadequate by a New Zealand wide trout fishers organization.

In a submission to the Ministry for the Environment, the NZ Federation of Freshwater Anglers (NZFFA) spokesman Rex Gibson of Christchurch said a ministry’s discussion document on freshwater management clearly ignored the crisis surrounding the health of the nation’s lakes, rivers and streams.

Of major concern was the specific wording in the document objectives that “freshwater management enables economic development and does not necessarily constrain economic activity.”

“In effect, this will result in regional councils being the judge, jury and executioner of environmental health. Based on past performances the Federation is highly sceptical of regional council’s ability and motivation to safeguard and restore the ailing health of freshwater in New Zealand.”

The specific wording in the document requiring that it “does not constrain economic activity” clearly ignored the original purpose of protecting the purity of the nation’s waterways and health of their natural ecosystems and biodiversity.

The Federation had no faith in “parish pump politics” as a mechanism to provide consistent and meaningful standards.

“It is clear that local economic concerns will over-ride strategies that affect the long term well-being of New Zealand’s waterways and their biological health.”

Rex Gibson said the crisis around freshwater mismanagement began 25 years ago at the same time massive increases in the intensification of dairy farming and other factors such as accelerated sediment runoff from forestry clear felling, had led to the present crisis of degraded, de-watered rivers. Canterbury had experienced a 500% increase in dairy farming with animal numbers for the region alone exploding up to 1.2 million cows.

“We can only conclude that the wording in the document seems dishonest writing designed to deceive people,” he added.

 

TROUT ANGLERS HELP IN THE FRESHWATER STRUGGLE

The New Zealand Federation of Freshwater Anglers, whose members have fought for the protection and guardianship of our precious freshwater resource for over forty years, are sickened by Dave Hansford, the pro-1080 blogger, who has chosen to use the freshwater crisis to express his prejudice against introduced species.

As part of National Radio’s ‘Water Fools’ series, Hansford penned an opinion piece ‘Filthy water report: A starting point or an end game?’ in which he states “We must stop worshipping trout and the dollars they bring, and respect instead the right of our native fish to endure.”

Federation spokesperson David Haynes said “ Using freshwater as a vehicle to bitch about trout is, at best, divisive and brings nothing positive to the table.” Haynes continues, “Our members have been boots-on-the-ground for years helping with riparian planting, helping kids get outdoors to learn to fish and actively engaging with central and regional Government, such as ECan,  trying to stop the continued depletion and degradation of our rivers and lakes.  Right now we are supporting an application by the Water and Wildlife Habitat Trust to restore Snake Creek, a tributary of Ellesmere/Te Waihora.  When we try to fix a degraded watercourse, it is for the benefit of the whole ecosystem, of which trout may be just one component.  It is because of our trout that 100,000 people enjoy our freshwater and give a damn about it.”  Trout are a vital component of the diet of native species such as eels, cormorants (shags), herons and numerous native wading birds. A decline in trout numbers can lead to declines in some native species at risk.

Cawthron’s research over many years has shown that trout are far more sensitive to pollution and sediment than our native fish species and hence act as the canary in the coal mine for health of freshwater – when they are no longer present the river health has collapsed.

Trout were first introduced into New Zealand in 1867 and have since become an integral part of the Kiwi outdoors heritage along with game hunting, sea fishing and the right to ‘get a feed for the family.’

 

 

King Salmon Process an Affront to Democracy?

Opinion

King Salmon Process an Affront to Democracy?

by Tony Orman

The King Salmon application for new salmon farms in the Marlborough Sounds and process reflects an alarming trend towards the dilution, indeed removal, of democracy by government.

A recent  Environmental Defence Society (EDS) press release said “the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has initiated a process to give King Salmon an ‘easy ride’ for approvals for new salmon farms in the protected Outer Marlborough Sounds.”

The Environmental Defence Society further added “MPI is essentially acting as a co-applicant for approvals that will override the Marlborough Council’s plans that prohibit aquaculture development in the Outer Sounds and that protect scenic and landscape values.”

The government’s process EDS described, allows the Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy to make regulations that bypass normal RMA processes.  Yet the Marlborough Council is currently reviewing its plans,  the proper place for making decisions about aquaculture.  But it seems government reckons otherwise and knows best.

But does it?

The King Salmon saga will allow a Ministerial decision already backing King Salmon’s commercial interest to override the broader public interest. Worst of all, the locally council, democratically elected and the people of Marlborough are being denied any voice. Well not quite, for submissions are being heard by a panel. Closer scrutiny shows any semblance to true democracy ends. The panel is politically appointed by the Minister, on the advice of MPI bureaucrats.

The Environmental Defence Society agrees saying “The process is a questionable one. It invites people to make written submissions, which will be considered by a panel appointed by government. There is no provision for cross-examination of experts and so the hearing lacks robustness. The panel makes recommendations to the Minister who decides with no rights of appeal (by the public).”

In short, it’s lip service to democracy.

Recently Minister for the Environment Nick Smith took full control of the spreading of ecosystem poisons 1080 and brodifacoum, stripping any say by regional and district councils and therefore the public. Smith argued it was for a more consistent approach. Yet mostly poisons are spread on public lands. The land owners, i.e. the public, now have no voice in the spreading of toxins on their lands.

Two years ago, government allowed foreign mineral and oil companies to drill along the coast and in conservation parks – all public property. Energy minister Simon Bridges signed approval in cavalier fashion so much so that when later asked, he didn’t know where one exploration area, the Lewis Pass’ Victoria Forest Park, was. The public was denied any democratic right to comment.

Recent “reforms” to the Resource Management Act similarly weaken the people’s voice. Again power in the regions has been diluted but dramatically increased in central government. The changes are not about reforming and improving law; they are about concentrating total power and control in central government and its individual ministers. The changes essentially weaken laws about such vital matters as controlling urban sprawl and protecting rivers and streams (already degraded or under threat) and coastal areas such as the Marlborough Sounds..

The late John F Kennedy US president once wrote, “The race between education and erosion, between wisdom and waste, has not run its course. Each generation must deal anew with the raiders, the scramble to use public resources for private profit. and with the tendency to prefer short-run profits to long-term necessities.”

The scramble by the raiders is on.

People are becoming more and more aware of the increasing worldwide ecological crisis. One fact is undeniable – the earth carries many times too many people for both resources and environmental well-being. In New Zealand, the first Europeans established an egalitarian society of social equality, where resources were public. The alternative to this society is to allow vital elements alienated into private hands by private deals for private profits.

Basically that deal is underway with King Salmon. King Salmon’s farm occupies public seabed space for which no rates nor rental is paid.

New Zealand vital resources, essentially owned by the public, in land, water, soil, forest and the public domain generally, must be jealously guarded by New Zealanders that is if we cannot expect our elected representatives in Parliament to look after the public interest.

It is only proper that laws pertaining to the environment and public resources should allow the public full and proper voice. Any commercial exploitation of any public resource should be open to scrutiny and challenge.

Massive power is concentrated in corporates. The corporates woo weak politicians and power-hungry political parties with substantial party donations. Yet ironically the people expect elected representatives to protect the public good.

But when those elected representatives weaken or remove the public’s right to exercise scrutiny and challenge, then it’s a sad day indeed.

Democracy is under severe stress.

Footnote: Tony Orman is a former town and country planner with the former Marlborough County Council.

 

 

 

 

Happening to a river near you

NZFFA Exec member John Collins hosted Adrienne Lomax of the Waiora Ellesmere Trust (WET) at a meeting of the Christchurch Fishing and Casting Club recently.

Her presentation was a good reminder to me that in engaging the issues that really affect fishing and fishing clubs we too often feel that we are forced into an aggressive-defensive situation shrouded in frustration.

How we are dealing with what happened to the former world class fishery of the Selwyn River, and about to happen to a river near you, is a classic example of adversarial “frustrationology” in practice. We hope to bring about enough political pressure, by beating enough drums, to force change by legislative means. We may well succeed but look at the video on the links supplied by Adrienne and reflect.

If you do nothing else this week that somebody like me has suggested; then make it this viewing.

Hart’s Creek is the major tributary of the lake at the southern end. If the links don’t work the just search You tube.

Here’s a link to the Harts Creek video – happy for you to share with anyone who may be interested.   If you want to download it, the button is in the top right hand corner of the page.  It’s a very big file in MP4 format and will play in windows media player or similar.

The video is also on YouTube and the link is on our website   http://www.wet.org.nz/resources/videos/

 

Contact Adrienne Lomax, Waihora Ellesmere Trust General Manager, 021 052 9720

PO Box 198, Tai Tapu 7645, Canterbury, NZ
manager@wet.org.nz
www.wet.org.nz

Water Not For Sale

Water and rivers surely is destined to become a major election issue at this year’s election And rightly so because water is so vital for us all whether town or country. It therefore is important that all New Zealand pursues a policy to have “sustainable” use of water and that essential quantity for the ecosystem and essential quality is maintained and in some cases restored.

One aspect which must be paramount in debate is not let water go the way of fishing quotas where quotas are tradable. Your last issue featured about the flaws in the tradable quota fisheries system.

Being tradable opens the way – as has happened in fisheries – for bigger players, i.e. corporate companies to buy up smaller players’ allocation and thus emerge as monopolies in the use of the resource.  Despite the self promotion by MPI that our fisheries quota system is the envy of other countries it has been revealed to be seriously flawed. No wonder fish stocks are often struggling. However the offenders, corporate companies wield strong political influence by way of donations to political parties resulting in their interests being paramount rather than the best public interest. Above all the resource suffers from mismanagement.

It is imperative that water not be allowed to become a victim of “wheeling and dealing.”

Each election year the Council of Outdoor Recreation Associations (CORANZ) puts out an election charter which is sent to political parties. Water and rivers feature strongly. One is that “residual flow must be adequate for wildlife and fish and recreation such as fishing, swimming, canoeing etc.” Water is for multiple use by the community at large.

Despite John Key’s nonchalant shrug that “water belongs to no one” line, water belongs to the people. Water is essentially a public resource, regardless of wealth, ethnicity or social class. Law should be enacted now to make it crystal clear that water cannot be sold and hocked off to the highest bidder.

Andi Cockroft

Co-chairman CORANZ

Trout Fishing Federation Opposes Tradeable Water Rights

The current debate about charging for water should not open the door to tradeable water rights says a national trout anglers organisation. The NZ Federation of Freshwater Anglers has opposed the right of water use holders to sell those rights, a system not unlike sea fisheries quotas.

Ken Sims of the Manawatu and spokesman for the Federation said tradeable fish quotas had resulted in the resource being dominated by big corporate companies who buy up rights thus aggregating quota.

In a relatively short time it becomes monopolised by the big corporations,” he said. “This monopoly is reflected in the undue excessive political pressure that corporates put on government both ministries and ministers.”

Ken Sims said water was essentially a public resource. He rejected the immediate past prime minister John Key’s opinion that water belong to no one. “It’s public property irrespective of wealth, ethnic background or social class. New Zealand is an egalitarian country and water reflects that,” he said.

He pointed to the fact that in some overseas countries, recreational groups have had to ‘buy back’ water rights from corporations, just to ensure that natural ecosystems and flows were maintained.

The New Zealand public, and recreational waterway users, see the trade in water rights, as already occurs in some South Island areas, as just another example of the agricultural industry ‘thumbing its nose’ at the public’s ownership.

This has to stop” Ken Sims said. “It’s public water. If you don’t want what you have been allocated, then leave the stuff where you found it”.

Laws should be implemented to prevent the direct “wheeling and dealing” of water rights by prohibiting trading in it, he added.

Selwyn River update

Greetings All

I was invited by the 7 Rivers Project group to speak to those who assembled (and on camera) at Coe’s Ford before their hikoi along the Selwyn’s empty river bed. I instead nominated Alan Strong. He is from a family who have had a crib in the Selwyn Huts “for ever”. He is an engineer and recently co-opted F&G Councillor. His life time of history on that river was ammunition enough to counter the party line, and some deliberate mis-information, from Fed Farmers and ECAN.

He delivered what I had hoped Colin could do when I asked him earlier, as Colin also had a history on the river; unlike me.

The plight of the Selwyn River has captured the public’s (and the news media’s) attention. It is the end point toward which every river in Aotearoa is heading unless things change drastically – see the article posted by Ian today.

This hikoi was followed by a public meeting at Lincoln. 150 attended, F&G councillors, farmers, environmental group reps, locals, etc, but no visible reporters, Alan was on the panel and was again impressive. Sadly the meeting did not pass a resolution but the sentiment was very strong about the loss of a river. 

There are different ways to skin a cat and Alan has summarized these in the attached paper. Even if the Selwyn River means nothing to you it could be the “Sharpville massacre” equivalent in the public’s fight/crusade to regain our rivers.

I am still active in trying to get a Chch Eco-hub established. It has real potential to put pressure on politicians, local and national, to wake up over water issues.

As the chair on One Voice Te Reo Kotahi (OVTRK = 140 small NGOs and community groups) I get regular meetings, at least quarterly, with local senior staff of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, ECAN, all three local Councils, the Urban Development Strategy group, CDHB and Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu. Although we primarily facilitate communication between these organizations and the 140 groups on our register the organizing group members are able to raise water issues every single time. It is part of a squeaky wheel gets oiled approach.

We cannot count on a revolution and, as yet, we have no guarantee that a change of government will solve our issues. Many of these issues developed under the last Green/Labour/NZ First administration..


As they say in Thailand. The only way to eat an elephant is one mouthful at a time.

Reflect on Alan Strong’s paper and consider whether in is happening in a river near you!

Rex

  • The paper sets out some of the main impacts on the lake as of last year. The main lake issue is the lack of in-flow (ditto for spawning). This leads to a lack of “flushing” of the lake and a build up of a fairly toxic mix of phosphates and nitrates; toxic that is to all but the lethal algal blooms. Of particular significance is the lake level. I have an article coming up in the next NZFFA newsletter on the Canterbury situation in terms of river, and the lake, volumes. On the date that I researched the volumes the mean lake level was just 0.52m. Remember this is NZ’s 5th largest lake!!!!

  • The sea-run browns are in dire straits. F&G closed sea-run winter fishing last season, and next, in order to assist them to recover.

  • The eel numbers are just a fraction of what they were but over-fishing has also contributed to this. The eels were sent off to Holland and Germany willy nilly and, of course they were free to the harvesting folk, just like our water is to the bottlers. I have/had photos taken in 1971 of the night time migration over the bar at Taumutu at full moon in Feb and March – a hundred thousand a night – but that is just a memory. After the Selwyn, Irwell etc dried up so did their habitat. The lake was just a gathering place prior to migration. There is a wonderful old movie available through the National Film library (hopefully on disc now) called “Eel history was a mystery”. It shows the eel harvesting at Birdling’s Flat in the 1930s and 40s. What I saw at Taumutu in the 70s was similar.

  • Yes!! We are heading the same way as the USA. The Grand Canyon was carved out by the mighty Colorado River. It has ceased however to reach the sea for over 20 years in recent times as the result of over exploitation for irrigation. At least the US Federal government stopped funding irrigation projects in the 1970s.

Eh? What’s Happening Later this Year?

by Tony Orman
Kapiti Fly Fisher Club editor Malcolm Francis’ e mail reminded  me “an election is looming in September and the issues with the present Governments attitudes to clean rivers not easy.
As if I didn’t know.  You see one of my early mentors in deerstalking and trout fishing was the late John B Henderson, president of the NZ Deerstalkers’ Association and a councillor on the Wellington Acclimatisation Society for a number of years. John and I hunted the Tararuas behind Otaki Forks and he showed me in the 1950s, how to fish the dry fly on the Wairarapa’s Makakahi and Mangatainoka rivers.
He was a tireless and brilliant advocate. John was intelligent and well educated and yet  by nature was humble and a true gentleman. He believed in fighting strongly for a clean environment and sensible fish and game management. He never shied away from politics because he had a strong belief it was everyone’s right and duty to get in and question politicians. His philosophy rubbed off onto me I guess. 
No wonder I had a prolonged feisty, public debate with government cabinet minister Duncan Mcntyre in Hastings prior to the 1972 election. A main subject was trout farming but selling land to rich Americans to exploit fishing and hunting values and “Save Manapouri” from raising the lake to give discounted power to an multinational corporate for a an aluminium smelter also featured. McIntyre was defeated in the Hasting seat, a dumping which the “NZ Herald” editorial described as a “shock result.”
“I urge the public to be more determined to bring the debate to the public for its judgement and never to be duped into believing that politics and the environment are other than cause and effect,” John said on more than one occasion in his NZDA speeches or Victoria University environmental lectures.
What this means is threats to your trout fishing start with politics. Same with sea fishing. For example, corporate sea fishing companies lobby their minister. Dairying , irrigation, forestry and other powerful commercial interests lobby politicians and departments. They employ persons to do just that. Corporates make donations to political parties to gain favour and precedence over the public interest.
In 1972 the outdoor public voted strongly against an arrogant government. But it seems today there’s a contagious doziness and a whole lot of inertia out there. After all a million Kiwis cannot be bothered registering as a voter or to vote in general elections. The fishing and hunting arena is no different. Take Fish and Game Councils. Recent fish and game elections, there’s been that inertia with a number of regions not having enough nominations to fill the seats around tables. Voting numbers were poor.
It’s that inertia that contributes to mediocre government and local councils with poor decision making.
You might say, “well set an example”. Well since the 1970s I’ve spent about 25 years on various Acclimatisation Society councils and on their successor fish and game councils plus a few other fishing, hunting and environmental bodies to boot. I’ve done my dash – I reckon it’s younger people’s turn.
But in a general election I can vote and I always have and will in future.
I confess I’m a swinging voter having voted for Labour, National, even Social Credit (remember them?) and NZ First to name some. Swinging voters are the ones who make the difference. Apparently just a 2% swing in voting can decide which party makes it to government. And under MMP the parties other than Labour or National can form government. Pundits are picking NZ First to make a big impact come September.
Malcolm highlighted “clean rivers” as a big issue. Indeed water and rivers I believe, will be a very big issue. This government proposes to centralise things – that’s a word for dictatorial “state control” in my book. It proposes “centralising” the functioning of the Resource Management Act. In one way you can feel sorry for government  as its case is not helped by its spokesman the often rude, abrasive, ego-centric Environment Minister Nick Smith.
I am concerned about a few other issues. 1080 poison (again use of it has been centralised to government) – no one really knows its effect on freshwater ecosystems except I understand eels and freshwater crayfish have been found with 1080 residues way above permissible levels. I’m concerned about foreigners buying farm and forestry (2016 figures show a very big increase in foreign buyers compared to 2015) and blocked access. Excessive tourists and freedom campers pooping by riversides anger me. I’m concerned at total mismanagement of sea fisheries. Kahawai, which I enjoy fly rodding for, have been plundered by corporate purse seiners.
Perhaps you may disagree with me. I’d be delighted if you agreed or disagreed. Either reaction shows you’re not afflicted with inertia and apathy.
Thankfully groups like NZ Federation of Freshwater Anglers and Council of Outdoor Recreation Associations are advocacies. Personally I’m disappointed with the lack of strong advocacy at election times by NZ Fish and Game. But then bizarrely when Fish and Game Councils were set up in 1987 they were made by law, duty bound to the Minister of Conservation. I believe Fish and Game’s first and foremost moral duty is to its shareholders, i.e. licence holders. Perhaps then action is over to the individual – you?
 So to the forthcoming general election, take an interest. Study policies and MPs statements, even go to candidate meetings or through letters to editor, facebook etc., ask questions on key issues such as clean rivers, 1080, irrigation, foreign ownership, pollution or whatever.
 Make a difference this  election.