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Meridian threatens eels with dam-nation

14th March 2008

Meridian threatens eels with dam-nation

Meridian's proposed hydro-dam on a wild and pristine West Coast river will hasten the extinction of our long-fin eel population Green Party Conservation Metiria Turei says.

"Resource Consents will be notified today by the West Coast Regional Council for Meridian Energy's proposed 85MW hydro dam on the northern West Coast's Mokihinui River.

"The proposal is outrageous; the Mokihinui is ranked New Zealand's seventh most important river for its natural values and its whole catchment is considered nationally important for biodiversity.

"I am also informed that a report about the viability of mitigating the biodiversity impacts is not being released by Meridian - I ask what they are hiding and challenge them to release this report immediately so the public has all the facts," Mrs Turei says.

The river is a very important habitat for 12 species of native freshwater fish, including four that are nationally threatened and in population decline, such as the long-fin eel. Many of the freshwater fish in the river need access to the sea and form part of the whitebait harvest.

"These eels and fish are protected by the inaccessibility of the Mokihinui gorge. The 85m high dam will flood the gorge creating a 14km long lake, removing natural protections and the ability of the eels to migrate to and from the ocean. This development will undoubtedly hasten their extinction," Mrs Turei says.

The part of the Mokihinui valley to be drowned is also home to highly endangered bats and snails, birds such as kiwi, whio and kaka.

"Suggestions that catch-and-carry systems can be used to help fish get across the dam are just greenwash.

"Why doesn't Meridian start with the least precious rivers when selecting dam sites, instead of aiming its bulldozers at our most valuable and ecologically significant rivers?

"Of course, the answer as usual is profit: damming a pristine river is a cheap and dirty way of power generation, because the costs to biodiversity, to the river ecosystem, to white-water rafters, and to future generations are not accounted for.

"The Green Party will campaign hard against this dam, and fight for the boundaries of Kahurangi National Park to be extended south to include the Mokihinui catchment and protect it from future hydro development," Mrs Turei says.


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