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Fish & Game focus on Wairarapa wetlands

Media release from Wellington Fish & Game

Fish & Game focus on Wairarapa wetlands

Embargo: for use from mid day, Thurs August 9 2012
One of the lower North Island’s iconic wetland areas – Lake Wairarapa – has just been highlighted, as part of a new campaign to raise awareness of some of the country’s most outstanding waterways.
Fish & Game has joined forces with other organisations (see below) in the launch of a campaign to raise awareness of the country’s most outstanding rivers, and the Water Conservation Orders (WCOs) which give them protection.

“Hundreds of duck hunters have flocked to Lake Wairarapa for decades, returning year after year to harvest their ducks,” says Phil Teal, Wellington Region Fish & Game Regional Manager. “Many others who travel over the Wairarapa probably overlook this local water treasure, and sadly, may be unaware that such special places exist.”

The wetlands surrounding Lake Wairarapa were protected in 1989 by a Water Conservation Order (WCO) – the highest level of protection afforded to any water body in New Zealand Around 15 rivers and some lakes are protected by WCOs – and for the Lake Wairarapa wetlands, that means saving the wetlands from drainage.

Fish & Game has had a long and distinguished involvement with Lake Wairarapa, in terms of battles to save the wetlands from drainage, and were the instigators of the WCO granted to protect the area.

Mr Teal says while there’s wide recognition of New Zealand’s network of National Parks, too few Kiwis are aware that WCOs provide similar high-level protection for some of the country’s most precious, pristine rivers and watery treasures. “I’d urge people to take the time to look at our new website (see below) to learn just what’s out there.”

The WCO campaign this week includes the launch of the www.OutstandingRivers.org.nz WCO website, erecting WCO signage and unveiling ceremonies at key locations around the country to identify these waterways of national significance, and raft and kayak flotillas down WCO protected rivers.

Former All Blacks captain Anton Oliver is fronting the campaign in his role as WCO ambassador.

Note: Organisations taking part in the campaign include Forest & Bird, Environmental Defence Society (EDS), Whitewater NZ, Federated Mountain Clubs and other environmental and recreational NGOs.
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ENDS

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