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.