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Tukituki decision a win for water quality and farming


Tukituki decision a win for water quality and farming

The draft decision by the Board of Inquiry (BOI) on the Tukituki Catchment
proposal represents a significant win for freshwater management and the
urgency of a transition to environmentally sustainable agriculture in New
Zealand, says Fish & Game NZ.

Fish & Game lead the evidence presented against the most contentious issue
in front of the BOI which was Hawke's Bay Regional Council's proposed
"single nutrient management" approach - this focussed only on the management
of phosphorous and set instream nitrogen limits at toxic levels.

"This would have paved the way for unconstrained land intensification, and
subsequently all the adverse impacts on water quality that flow with that,"
says Fish & Game chief executive Bryce Johnson.

The ruling by the BOI is that such an approach would neither safeguard the
life supporting capacity of our freshwater resources, nor provide for the
public's right to access water that is safe for swimming, fishing and food
gathering.

For farming in the catchment to be environmentally sustainable the BOI ruled
that both nitrogen and phosphorous needs to be managed to ensure ecosystem
health.

"We all want a strong and vibrant economy, but public opinion clearly shows
that New Zealanders will not tolerate unfettered economic growth or
subsidised irrigation schemes that have a detrimental impact on their
environment and their waterways," says Mr Johnson.

"The BOI has delivered a ruling that should sit well with Kiwis -
essentially it acknowledges we can have agricultural growth, but the
challenge now laid down is that any intensification must not be at the
expense of the environment or the natural resources owned and enjoyed by all
New Zealanders."

Fish & Game is confident this ruling will set a national precedent and have
direct implications for not only all other proposed large scale irrigation
schemes, such as the one being talked about for the Wairarapa, but also the
Government's National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management which, in
its currently proposed form, will allow all rivers in New Zealand to reach
toxic nitrogen levels and result in our waterways becoming the most polluted
in the OECD.

Mr Johnson notes that this is a draft ruling and that Fish & Game now needs
to work through what is a very comprehensive report, in anticipation of a
full response when the decision is finalised in late May.

Ends

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