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Don’t shoot the messenger on water quality

1 August 2011

Don’t shoot the messenger on water quality

Environment Minister Nick Smith needs to address the substance of a recently released Cawthron Institute report which says that the condition of our lakes, rivers, and wetlands is likely to continue to decline under current Government policy, said the Green Party today.

“Rather than shoot the messenger, Nick Smith needs to address the shortfalls in the weak National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management that he implemented earlier this year,” said Green Party Co-leader Russel Norman.

The Cawthron Institute is New Zealand's largest, independent, community-owned research centre. Their report, commissioned by Fish and Game, compared the National Government’s National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management (NPS) to the draft NPS recommended by the Board of Inquiry a group of experts appointed to consult the public and provide recommendations on the Policy. The Institute identifies the ways in which the current policy is weaker than the Board of Inquiry version and concludes that the quality of our freshwater is likely to continue to decline for several years.

“When the NPS was released, we identified that Nick Smith had pulled the teeth from the Policy, and now we have independent analysis that backs up our claims,” said Dr Norman.

"Nick Smith removed the provision from the draft NPS which requires a resource consent for land use intensification. This is despite the fact that nearly every report on water quality identifies land use intensification as the main cause of water quality decline in New Zealand.

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“Nearly half of our monitored rivers are unsafe for swimming, a third of our rivers are unhealthy, and two-thirds of our native freshwater fish are threatened or at risk of extinction.
“We have a freshwater crisis on our hands, and the Cawthron Institute’s independent research has now shown that the National Government’s National Policy Statement isn’t even going to stem, let alone solve, the problem.

“Our kids have a birthright to swim in our rivers and lakes, and we need strong policy to make this happen nationwide,” said Dr Norman.

ENDS

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