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IrrigationNZ - Chief Executive Lacks Environmental Awareness

IrrigationNZ - Chief Executive Lacks Environmental Awareness

The New Zealand Federation of Freshwater Anglers, a leading angling and freshwater advocacy organisation, has lambasted Andrew Curtis of IrrigationNZ accusing him of a ‘profit before the environment mentality’.

David Haynes, president of the trout and rivers advocacy Federation said IrrigationNZ was narrowly focused on commercial exploitation of the public’s rivers for private profiteering.

"IrrigationNZ is a wholly tax payer subsidised entity set up to promote the damming of rivers, and diverting them for irrigation schemes supplying intensive agriculture, resulting in polluted groundwater and degraded or dried up rivers,” he said.

Dams and irrigation destroy rivers by reducing flow, oxygen and fish passage as well as increasing water temperatures and algal blooms. This combined with the highly regulated river flows which cause "bed armouring" means dams reduce freshwater biodiversity and destroy fish spawning opportunity for both native fish and acclimatised ones like trout and salmon.

IrrigationNZ’s CEO Andrew Curtis recently criticised the Cawthron Institute's research1 which showed far higher minimum flow levels than originally thought were needed to enable fish to survive in our rivers. IrrigationNZ claimed the study should have focused on native fish and not trout.

“IrrigationNZ’s CEO is afflicted with 'exotic-phobia’ when he tries to damn so-called introduced trout. Trout have been here for 150 years, just like humans,” said David Haynes.

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The Cawthron Institute, in conjunction with NIWA released their report to worldwide acclaim after 15 years of extensive research. The Cawthron/NIWA report states that 'the principles learnt (from studying trout) also apply to other drift-feeding fish, including juvenile salmon and native species - such as some whitebait'.

"Andrew Curtis lacks both the knowledge and appreciation of freshwater flow requirements for fish, so his outburst lacks all credibility" said David Haynes. "Like our trout fishery, the Cawthron Institute is internationally recognised and respected. Mr Curtis, is maintaining his comfortable employment with IrrigationNZ, an organisation whose job is promoting intensive irrigation at any cost”.

David Haynes said IrrigationNZ and its CEO seemed totally out of touch with the reality of degraded rivers and dry riverbed where once flowed water for 12 months of the year.

"Their old-world views are in stark contrast with the overwhelming public opinion that our rivers and lakes should have sufficient quantity and quality of freshwater to support healthy aquatic ecosystems and enable us to swim in them” continued Mr Haynes.

Footnote: (1) A copy of the report can be found at: http://www.cawthron.org.nz/coastal-freshwater/news/2016/trout-and-native-fish-need-more-water-we-think-research-finds/#sthash.wlc9Hpds.dpuf

ENDS

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