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If We Don't Act Now, It Could Be Too Late

Media release from North Canterbury Fish & Game

1 February 2013

Media Release

If We Don't Act Now, It Could Be Too Late

In less than a month the hearings will commence on the proposed Canterbury Land and Water Regional Plan (LWRP). Fish & Game would strongly urge the people of Canterbury to use this opportunity to voice their support for stronger protection of the region’s water bodies – to both the region’s leaders and the wider community.

“We have been presented with a weak and permissive plan that cannot effectively manage water resource decisions over the next five years,” says Scott Pearson, North Canterbury Fish & Game’s environmental officer.

Pearson, Fish & Game’s case manager for the upcoming regional plan hearing, fears that if the LWRP stays in its present form it will not be possible to halt the further degradation of a number of Canterbury water catchments.

“If we don’t stand up against the weak provisions of this plan now, in five years’ time we will find ourselves trying to claw back changes that will ultimately have a more damaging impact on both the environment and farming viability.”

“The Government is desperate for agricultural intensification no matter what the cost to future generations. It’s a slippery slope.”

Currently 65% (500,000ha) of all irrigated land in New Zealand falls within the Canterbury Region, but based on the conservative Canterbury Water Management Strategy (CWMS) projection, an additional 250,000 ha (50% increase) could be added . This means 750,000ha total of irrigated farm land in Canterbury and the associated intensive agriculture and environmental impact that comes with that.

“It is time to stop the over-allocation of this precious, finite public water resource,” says Pearson.

Back in early November 2012, Central South Island Fish & Game Chief executive Jay Graybill warned that in its present form the LWRP is “not consistent with the legislation, policy statements and plans as required under the RMA and the Canterbury Water Management Strategy.”

Graybill reiterates Fish & Game’s “real concerns with aspects of the LWRP and its inconsistency with law requiring that the ‘life-supporting capacity’ of water is safeguarded.”

“With the current media attention surrounding dicyandiamide (DCD) issues, plus reports of poisoned and polluted waterways in the region, it is time Cantabrians voiced their concerns before it is too late.” adds Pearson

Fish & Game believe it is imperative that the Canterbury LWRP as a regional plan should be setting a robust framework for all water-based decisions; setting at least bottom-line limits for maintaining and enhancing water quality. The LWRP must clearly set out freshwater outcomes, including measurable limits, and activities required to achieve those limits.

“Land owners and their associated industry bodies must take responsibility for reducing leaching rates and protecting environmentally sustainable river flows. Fish and Game want to help them achieve this so that everyone is better off in the long run”


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