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Public access under threat – Dunne

Public access under threat – Dunne

UnitedFuture leader Peter Dunne has warned that the public’s access to public resources such as fishing rivers and game areas are increasingly coming under threat, and without proper intervention will be lost forever.

“I am concerned that a number of recent events where the public have been denied access to public resources are setting a dangerous precedent,” said Mr Dunne.

“I am aware of instances up and down the country where the public have effectively been denied access to valuable fishing rivers and game areas due to unreasonable access restrictions and the selling of ‘exclusive’ access to guides and fee-paying clients.”

“This is called exclusive capture and not only does it fly in the face of the egalitarian principle of free and fair public access to recreationally valuable natural resources, but it is also illegal.”

“Land owners are, however, using the Trespass Act to grant themselves ‘de-facto ownership’ over public resources, and then selling the rights to access rivers and lakes bordering their land.”

“However, it is not only exclusive capture that is the issue.”

“One of the more absurd situations is along significant reaches of the Rangitaiki River where Timberlands, which managers the Kaingaroa Forest have basically denied fishermen access to a river which was in 1991 the venue of the World Fly Fishing Championship.”

“Fishermen have been told that it is too dangerous for them to access the river through the forest due to the presence of logging trucks and a perceived fire risk, yet strangely hunters with firearms are allowed almost unfettered access.”

“I am currently trying to work this through with affected parties; however we need a far more lasting solution that is immune from the ad-hoc attitudes of landowners and managers.”

“I have long-held the belief that the Walking Access Commission needs to have the formal power to actually resolve these issues.”

“Presently all the Commission is mandated to do is merely facilitate and negotiate. What it specifically requires is the statutory authority to prevent the loss of public access rights through stealth, as is happening at the moment.”

“I fear if we maintain the status quo the loss of public access rights will accelerate and the enjoyment of outdoor recreation activities will become a domain exclusively of the rich,” said Mr Dunne.

ENDS

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