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Outdoor Council Backs Fish and Game in Minister Smith Stoush

Outdoor Council Backs Fish and Game over Minister Smith Stoush

A national outdoor recreation council has backed Fish and Game in the wake of an argument with Conservation Minister Nick Smith over the organisation's advocacy role for cleaning up New Zealand's rivers from a deteriorating state.

"Clearly Fish and Game as the advocate and manager of the public's trout fishing resource logically has a strong role to play in view of the plight of New Zealand's rivers," said the Council of Outdoor Recreation Associations of NZ (CORANZ) Andi Cockroft of Wellington. "Sixty percent of rivers are classed as unfit for contact recreation such as swimming".

However Conservation Minister Nick Smith at a Fish and Game Council meeting reportedly criticised Fish and Game for standing in the way of development of irrigation for dairy farm expansion and resultant contamination by effluent and nitrates of streams and rivers. The president of the NZ Federation of Freshwater Anglers David Haynes who attended the Fish and Game NZ council meeting where Smith demanded Fish and Game step back, reported on the meeting and was then personally taken to task by the minister who allegedly threatened defamation proceedings.

Andi Cockroft said there was growing concern at the expansion of corporate dairy farms and in areas of very low rainfall such as the South Island's MacKenzie Basin.

"Clearly these mega-farms need water to make up for rainfall deficiency so it comes from rivers indirectly through aquifers or direct from waterways themselves. And clearly it is just not sustainable," he said. "Additionally such intensive pasture production requires intensive top dressing with the resultant runoff of excrement or leaching of nitrates and phosphates."

The conflict between Nick Smith and Fish and Game threw into focus the role of a Minister of Conservation who by title should be concerned for a clean environment and clean, uncontaminated rivers.

"Instead paradoxically we have a minister who is championing the expansion of the monolithic monoculture of corporate dairy farming at the expense of conservation, i.e. wise use of resources. It just doesn't make sense,' said Andi Cockroft.

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