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Fish & Game Calls for Honesty in Water Debate

Call for honesty in water debate

Opponents of water quality proposals are being called on to bring honesty and reality to the debate on improving New Zealand’s waterways.

Water quality has become a major feature of the 2017 election, with soaring public concern about the declining state of the country’s rivers, lakes and streams.

Some farming sectors are fighting back, opposing proposals to improve water quality through a small royalty on water use and are now organising political rallies to campaign against the plans.

Fish & Game Chief Executive Bryce Johnson says many of the claims being made against water quality initiatives are just plain wrong.

“Much of what is being said is alarmist rabble rousing of the worst sort. Claims that the proposed royalty will mean milk will cost $40 a litre and people will have to pay $2.80 for a single apple are just nonsense,” Mr Johnson says.

“How is a royalty of two cents a cubic metre of water going to have such a dramatic impact on consumer prices when farmers say paying many times that for irrigation water – 25 cents a cubic metre - is cost effective?

“This issue is just too important to be derailed by political scaremongering,” Mr Johnson says.

“Claiming the royalty on water use is a tax and will mean the end of profitable farming is nonsense. Royalties are already levied on gold, oil, coal and even gravel and they ensure New Zealanders get a return on what is being taken from their country.

“These royalties haven’t wrecked the economy, so how is a tiny royalty on water any different?” Mr Johnson says.

“Agriculture has been getting a free ride with natural water for years. Claiming the industry is the backbone of the country wears a bit thin when numerous official reports conclude the environmental consequences have been massive.”

Bryce Johnson says politicians and the agriculture industry need to face up to the reality that water quality must be urgently tackled.

“We need to fix the wrongs. While many farmers are already doing great work to protect the environment industry leaders need to deal with the hardcore element that is in denial that the problem even exists.

“These deniers are tarnishing farming’s image and losing it its social licence to operate.

“A just-released survey of business leaders shows 93% see water quality as a major issue and want more done to ensure New Zealand has clean water for the future.

“The law on this has been clear since 1991. After a quarter of a century, we need to start living up to its expectations,” Mr Johnson says.



Fish & Game is a statutory public entity, established by Parliament under the Conservation Act, to manage, maintain and enhance sports fish and gamebirds, and their habitats. It is not a lobby group but an organisation with specific responsibilities under Acts of Parliament, including the Conservation, Resource Management, Walking Access, Public Finance and Overseas Investment Acts.

The New Zealand Fish & Game Council represents the interests of anglers and gamebird hunters nationally. The Council and the 12 regional Fish & Game councils are collectively known as Fish & Game New Zealand. Fish & Game receives no money from the government. All funding is provided by freshwater anglers and gamebird hunters – a “user pays, user says” tradition dating back 150 years.

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