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Cherry-Picking Would Derail Water Clean Up

Fish & Game NZ

Cherry-Picking Would Derail Water Clean Up

Fish & Game NZ says the release of the third and final Land and Water Forum (LWF) report will only have an impact on improving freshwater management if the Government accepts all of the Forum’s recommendations, which are interconnected, and not pick and choose those which suit.

In these three reports the Government now has the bones of a blueprint – reached by consensus – for how to manage the public water resource, says Fish & Game NZ chief executive Bryce Johnson.

“All three reports must be treated as a package deal,” he says. “LWF’s second report recommended the need for a national objectives framework for water quality but the Government took it upon itself to develop these outside the forum framework. We’ve never had reasonable justification for that decision, which is odd given all the expertise was around the LWF table.

“LWF has been deliberating on these issues to reach a consensus for four years now and during that time freshwater quality and quantity has continued to deteriorate,” says Mr Johnson.

“But all parties to LWF – including business, agriculture, Iwi, recreational and environmental interests – have invested massive time and resources to reach an agreed way forward.

“The recommendations made in all three reports must therefore be treated as a complete package and not cherry-picked to suit political agendas – the Government has no mandate to take a different direction when all the parties have been around the LWF table and reached a consensus.”

In total, LWF has made 149 recommendations to the Government to appropriately address freshwater management in New Zealand after decades of neglect. In this regard the reports are very good.

Mr Johnson accepts it will take time to absorb and implement such a level of detail, however, he says Fish & Game NZ will be seeking assurance about interim arrangements (such as moratoria) until the recommendations are rolled out.

“New Zealanders have made it overwhelmingly clear they want rivers and lakes that are swimmable, fishable and safe for food gathering. The public deserves early assurance about who is going to be doing what, by when, to improve water quality.”

While Fish & Game NZ has acted in good faith towards LWF’s guiding ‘collaborative process’, Mr Johnson says the organisation is concerned about appeals against the Environment Court’s One Plan ruling and that the Government has chosen not to support its own earlier position in this case.

“We’re clearly getting mixed messages from Government and industry about a commitment to improve water quality. However, the Government’s response to the LWF report and recommendations is a logical opportunity to clarify its true position.”


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