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Environment Southland Saves The Mataura River

Environment Southland Saves The Mataura River

Fish and Game New Zealand said today that Environment Southland had saved one of New Zealand’s most important trout fisheries – the Mataura River - by upholding the national Water Conservation Order that protects it.

Two large-scale irrigation consents to take water from the Riversdale aquifer have been declined by Environment Southland. Fish & Game congratulates Environment Southland for its sensible decision which balances the need for conservation alongside the reasonable needs of agricultural development.

Fish & Game NZ, along with Department of Conservation, the Wyndham Anglers Club, John Purey-Cust and Te Ao Marama opposed the granting of the applications.

“The takes would have had adverse effects on the world famous Mataura Trout fishery and on the sustainability of the river’s natural ecosystems,” says Maurice Rodway, Fish & Game Southland Manager. “It is very pleasing to see that the Regional Council has accepted that it is time to call a halt to the massive takes of water.”

Environment Southland said in its decision it needed a lot more information before it could be confident that the granting such large scale consents would be sustainable and would not cause problems in the river. Environment Southland has also said it will not grant further consents of this type until this information is available.

“Scientific knowledge on the hydrology of this important river is inadequate. There needs to be extensive monitoring of the effect of current takes on the aquifer and its relationship with the river over a period of several dry years in a row to ensure they are not having adverse effects,” says Mr Rodway. “Depletion of the aquifer would draw more water out of the river and reduce the flow of spring creeks that maintained the main river during times of drought. Springfed flows to the Mataura kept the river cool and kept the river level up. This was one of the main reasons that the Mataura was such a good fishery since they maintained a good flow of cool water right through the summer.”

Fish & Game Director, Bryce Johnson also supports the Environment Southland decision. He said, “Environment Southland has upheld the integrity of the National Water Conservation Order that protects the river and its internationally famous fishery. Water Conservation Orders protect rivers from whittling away of water quality and in stream flow. It is great to see Environment Southland upholding the integrity and purpose of this important piece of conservation law.”

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