Media release from Hawke’s Bay Fish & Game
Fish & Game applauds strong warning on Tukituki
Hawke’s Bay Fish & Game has welcomed the New Zealand Federation of Freshwater Anglers’ (NZFFA) strong stand on the controversial Tukituki River proposals – warning that they risk the river systems being “degraded forever”.
The NZFFA, which represents angling clubs throughout New Zealand, has made public its submission to the Environmental Protection Agency.
NZFFA Spokesman Ian Rodger says that “members value this river for what it is and what it once was.”
“We see that value as not just being threatened by this proposal, but degraded forever. We are losing a public asset for private gain.
“We see no attempt to mitigate or compensate that loss, therefore we can only oppose it,” he says.
Hawkes Bay Fish & Game manager Pete McIntosh says the NZFFA is to be congratulated for a hard-hitting and accurate assessment of the risks and impacts involved in the Ruataniwha scheme and the Tukituki River proposals.
The Federation represents the interests of nearly 100,000 licence holding anglers around New Zealand and as such, its submission deserves to carry considerable weight.
“We suggest that if the board of Inquiry examining the submissions, and indeed the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council (HBRC), ignore this and other forceful submissions (380 in total) they do so at their peril,” says Mr McIntosh.
Referring to the council report on earthquake risks, Mr Rodger says that any failure of the dam’s integrity would be “catastrophic to the downstream fisheries, not to mention communities”.
He says that power generation and hydro schemes have involved devastation to some unique environments and fisheries, but to some degree the need for them is accepted.
“However, we look at every project on a case-by-case basis and this very, very large Ruataniwha project encompassing not one but many river catchment systems concerns us greatly.”
NZFFA members accept New Zealand’s role as a primary producing country, and the importance of dairy and other exports. But there is “a break-even point above which the very land and water cannot sustain the demands being placed on it. ”
Mr Rodger says it is well accepted by many that trout and salmon are very good barometers of water quality. “Using the Tukituki as an example, we’ve seen remarkable reduction in water levels, and with that has been a marked decrease in trout numbers and fish size.
“Again we consider this is due to the well-known and accepted fact that there is already drastic over-allocation of the freshwater resource.”
The NZFFA submission on the Tukituki River contains five key points.
One is that the proposed dam will apparently be modelled on the Opihi Dam, which has had a devastating impact on the river and the fishery downstream. “It’s design has meant this cannot be mitigated or remedied.”
The Tukituki already suffers from over-extraction and gross pollution as a result of intensive agriculture. Increasing the scale and intensity of these activities will inevitably increase pollution and the decline of recreational opportunities.
“The NZFFA opposes in the strongest possible terms any suggestion to increase the level of allowable nitrogen from these activities as a significant pollutant.”
Mr Rodger says that in addition, HBRC’s Plan Change proposes setting nutrient levels for the river water which are far too high and will adversely affect the river and its aquatic life.