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Fish & Game Chairperson Re-appointed

Media Release

Wednesday March 24 2004

Fish & Game Chairperson Re-appointed

Mr Sandy Lawrie, has been reappointed as the chairperson of the New Zealand Fish & Game Council.

The Council, which met in Wellington on the weekend, unanimously re-elected Mr Lawrie, who had been chair of the Council for the last three years. New Zealand Fish and Game Councils hold elections every three years and the last election was in November 2003. This meeting was the first meeting of the new New Zealand Council.

Mr Lawrie is also the deputy chief executive of Environment Bay of Plenty and he manages a number of that organisation’s subsidiary companies.

“It is an honour to be elected to this position,” says Mr Lawrie. “As an angler I am proud to be part of the fish and game movement. Freshwater anglers and game bird hunters are playing a very important role in this country as environmental watchdogs. We have seen first hand the effect of draining of wetlands, abstraction from rivers, pollution of waterways and the creation of barriers preventing public access to the countryside.”

“We as an organisation are very concerned about the number of threats facing our environment not least the Government’s ‘Sustainable Development Programme of Action’. While the programme proposals are in their infancy, it is already clear to us that the focus is on making more natural water available for irrigation and hydro development. The Council believes the ‘sustainable development’ concept is a huge threat to the natural environment.”

Says Mr Lawrie: “Somehow in New Zealand there is a false perception that our rivers are a wasted resource and that in themselves they have no particular value. This attitude must change. Often, standing in Planning Courts on behalf of anglers and hunters, Fish & Game New Zealand seems to be a lone voice fighting for the protection of rivers, wetlands, and lakes.”

“Our free natural rivers now face another threat with the renewed interest in small and micro hydro developments. With electricity prices rising many of these mini schemes, which have been thought about in decades past and dropped as uneconomical, are now looking more attractive to their proponents. The question arises, what do we do after every single river is dammed and every bit of water is used? When every river is ruined what then? It is Fish & Game New Zealand’s view that energy planning must weigh the real cost to society and look comprehensively into the future at all options such as energy conservation, wind power and coal. By doing so sooner rather than later we should be able to keep our remaining rivers intact.”

“New Zealand needs to come to the realisation that its natural water is a finite resource,” Mr Lawrie says.

ENDS

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