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Healthy rivers must come first

7 April 2008

Forest & Bird media release for immediate use

Healthy rivers must come first

The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry should be supporting regional councils’ efforts to clean up our rivers – not attempting to thwart them, Forest & Bird says.

Horizons Regional Council’s draft regional plan sets a goal that all natural water bodies in the region be safe for swimming. However, MAF is opposing this goal in its submission on the plan.

Forest & Bird’s Lower North Island Field Officer James Griffiths says Horizons’ goal of ensuring that all natural water bodies in the region are safe to swim in is admirable, and MAF should be supporting it.

“The biggest threat to water quality in our rivers and lakes in the region is the impact of sediment and nutrient run-off of from agricultural land. As the key Government agency responsible for the agricultural sector, MAF should be supporting any initiatives to reduce the environmental impact of this sector.”

Although many of our native freshwater species need much higher water quality standards than is required for safe swimming, if the water quality of lakes and rivers is safe for swimming, it will also help support the natural ecosystems and wildlife, James Griffiths says.

“We are not just talking about the right of all New Zealanders to enjoy swimming, boating and fishing in our lakes and rivers; we are also ensuring that our waterways are in good enough health to support native fish, such as eels and whitebait, and a wide range of native birds that live on our lakes and rivers.”

The agricultural sector should take responsibility for the environmental harm it causes, and MAF should support regional authorities like Horizons in encouraging farmers to reduce their impact on the environment, James Griffiths says.


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