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Impacts On Lowland Streams Affect Whitebait

Forest and Bird calls on the dairy industry to clean up lowland streams to help protect whitebait.

“Our lowland streams are critical habitat for native fish species, especially species that make up the whitebait fishery – a Kiwi icon,” said Eric Pyle, Conservation Manager for Forest and Bird.

Dairy cows can have a devastating impact on native fish habitat when cows have unrestricted access to streams. “Native fish can’t tolerate cows in streams – cows trample the habitat of native fish,” said Mr Pyle.

“There is a simple solution to this dairying – lowland streams problem and that is to fence cows out of streams,” said Mr Pyle. “Dairy farmers should use some of their recent profits to help protect a Kiwi icon – whitebait”, said Mr Pyle.

“Some dairy farmers are doing a good job in fencing cows out of streams,” said Mr Pyle. “But many farmers need to do a much better job to protect our native fish and whitebait. Well-managed streams in dairy areas are the exception rather than the norm. The dairy industry needs to set environmental standards for its supplier farmers, just as it sets standards for milk quality”.

“Other industries have developed ways to protect streams, and the dairy industry should follow suit,” said Mr Pyle. “For example, some players in the forestry sector have developed good systems for protecting waterways. The dairy industry needs to lift its game and follow the good example set by some elements of the forestry sector.”


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