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Trout Fishers' Federation Highlights Key Issues

Trout Fishers' Federation Highlights Key Issues

The top four concerns for the trout fishing public were identified by a gathering of trout fishing representatives in Palmerston North in the weekend.

‘New Zealand Federation of Freshwater Anglers' President, Ian Rodger of Auckland said the four areas of particular concern were: the invasive river algae Didymo; the privatisation of public fishing and shooting; hydro-electric schemes and the public's freshwater resource.

Speaking on didymo, Rodger was critical of surveillance measures which because of inadequacy could lead to it getting into Nort Island rivers from the South Island where it has infested several dozen waters.

"While some efforts have been made they are largely inconspicuous. Executive members travelling the Cook Strait with car, have reported no conspicuous signage - perhaps none - and with cars, no pamphlets or verbal advice on didymo."

"Anglers and particularly, felt soled wading boots, have been blamed for didymo's spread. We do not dispute this likelihood but it is disappointing to see other water users, such as kayakers, 4WD vehicles, jet boats, kayakers, indeed even trampers with wet socks, being ignored as potential transmitters," he said.

Checks on kayaks for instance of any water, indeed a drop, in the bottom of kayaks appears to have been almost non-existent.

Rodger said the public ownership of fish and game was under threat from commercialisation moves such as pheasant shooting preserves and a few unscrupulous fishing guides buying sole exclusive access rights from unwitting land owners. Both contravened the law that clearly states no charging for fishing or shooting rights he said.

"The public ownership philosophy that sports should be freely available to everyone regardless of income or status, was a legacy left by our European forefathers."

Under the energy reforms of the last National government and untouched by the present government, anglers were forced to wage 'continuous war against the power companies’ who want to dam any free flowing river.

"Damming free flowing rivers is not environmentally acceptable and it seems hypocritical by a government that boasts "clean, green, pure" that under its Kyoto PC, it can laud hydro power," said Rodger.

The Federation recognised the need for power generation - for both industry and domestic use and had advocated several options for investigation such as clean burning coal fired power stations, thermal, wind, wood waste use, wave and tidal, solar, greater incentives by government for householders and business to install solar and to even consider the nuclear option.

"We just want open debate and consideration of all options instead of PC dogma," he said.

Rodger said the resource wars of the future may well be fought over water which was a very scarce commodity in many parts of the word. New Zealand was relatively very rich in water but had to treat it as a resource to be used wisely.

Currently water was in the public domain, owned by the people of New Zealand but there were moves such as in the National Party's 'Blue-Green Paper' to support 'Tradeable water-rights'.

"If we take this literally it alludes to 'the ability to buy and sell water'. Personally I find this abhorrent and the start of a very detrimental, long term slide."

The 'sale of a water-right' was a thin end of the wedge, a precedent which could well lead to the 'sale of water'.

Concern was also expressed at Government's new Walking Access Bill with a major danger that unformed legal public roads (paper roads) would be compromised by the potential to superimpose "walkways" thus eroding or losing the status as public roads..

"There are more than 60,000 kilometres of unformed legal roads in existence in NZ. The bill lets down the public, being focused primarily on replacing public roads, the strongest form of access, with one of the least satisfactory form of public access namely walkways.".

In so saying however, in no way do we support the notion of ‘The Right to Roam’. What we do seek is ‘agreed poled access to public water and other sites of public importance’.


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