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Ashley River mouth /Rakahuri whitebaiting issue

August 15, 2006

Ashley River mouth /Rakahuri whitebaiting issue

Environment Canterbury believes that a meeting of the Waimakariri District Council later today may hold the key to resolving the concerns of local whitebaiters.

The Regional Coastal Environment Plan became operative on November 30 last year. It prohibits the use of unauthorized motor vehicles in the Coastal Marine Area (CMA) in the Ashley River/Rakahuri-Saltwater Creek Estuary all year round.

The Ashley River/Rakahuri-Saltwater Creek Estuary is of national and international significance as a habitat for rare and endangered birds, and protective mechanisms are required to ensure their survival. It also contains a significant area of saltmarsh vegetation of which little remains in Canterbury.

In order to protect this area it is necessary to restrict vehicle entry.

“However, it may be possible for whitebaiters to get their vehicles closer to the fishing grounds without crossing through the Coastal Marine Area,” says Dr Bryan Jenkins, chief executive, Environment Canterbury. “The traditional route to the mouth of the Ashley River/Rakahuri passed through the CMA, but it may be possible to identify an alternative route; but this would still need to meet the access restrictions in the district’s reserves management plan. A new route would need to be carefully considered because of the plan but it would, at least, allow the whitebaiters to access the fishing ground.

“We welcome working with the district council in trying to find a solution to this issue,“ said Dr Jenkins. “In the long term, we would hope that this issue can be resolved through a community-based, non-statuary plan for Pegasus Bay.”


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