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Recreation threatened by environmental damage

2 July, 2004

Outdoor recreation threatened by environmental damage, say Greens

The Green Party today congratulated the New Zealand Recreational Fishing Council, Fish and Game New Zealand and the Game and Forest Foundation on their merger at the Recreational Fishing Conference, saying it looked forward to working with them to protect the environment that's valued by so many New Zealanders.

"Other countries are known for their casinos and shops, New Zealand is known for its outdoor recreation," said Green Co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons. "A very high proportion of New Zealanders find their enjoyment in the forests, rivers, mountains and coast."

In a speech read for her at the conference as her flight was cancelled, Ms Fitzsimons outlined a number of key challenges facing outdoor recreation and offered some solutions.

"So little is known about many wild fish stocks that we cannot assess whether current management is sustainable or not. This means we have to take a precautionary approach and do more research. It is vital that fisheries research is kept in the public arena for the benefit of all New Zealanders who own the resource, and not devolved to the fishing industry as the Ministry wants.

"Recreational fishers are struggling to have their interests in species such as kahawai recognised - it does not make sense for kahawai to be hoovered up by purse seiners and sold for bait when the fish has very high value for recreational fishers and can feed many families.

"Freshwater fishing is threatened by hydro developments on several of our most important fishing rivers. The Greens successfully campaigned alongside Fish and Game against Project Aqua to give the Waitaki River a reprieve. We are now working to ensure that the Water Conservation Order is not lifted from the Gowan River and hydro developments do not destroy the recreational opportunities on the Arnold and the Wairau.

"Proposed changes to the Resource Management Act pose a significant threat as they will favour industrial development over the natural environment which provides so much of our recreation. River-killing hydro power schemes would face an easier passage for approval.

"Both land and water habitats are at risk from pollution and pests so we all need to be vigilant with biosecurity measures at the border."

Ms Fitzsimons said that while different management policies are needed for wild fish, introduced fish and introduced game, there are very strong common interests among the groups. "All depend on the quality of the environment to sustain the resource they catch. This quality is under threat," she said.


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