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Anglers Warn Politicians On Trout Farming

17 November 2011

Anglers Warn Politicians On Trout Farming

A national trout fishing body has warned National that any thought of trout farming could result in strong and vocal opposition and election action from the 100,000 or more trout anglers in New Zealand.

Ken Sims, acting president of the New Zealand Federation of Freshwater Anglers (NZFFA), a national federation of freshwater fishing clubs, said an incoming National government was likely to promote freshwater fish farming which includes trout farming. Opposition to trout farming went back to the 1972 election when the majority of trout anglers took their anger to the ballot boxes resulting in several electorate defeats for National and defeat as government.

“The Federation was formed back in 1974, partially to fight the introduction of trout farming. We have been at it ever since”, said Ken Sims, “including opposing a recent concerted but misguided campaign by Federated Farmers.”

Ken Sims said the early settlers established a heritage of a free, egalitarian freshwater fishery available to everyone. They were determined to avoid the old feudal class system of private ownership and exclusive access of fish and fisheries available to only a wealthy minority. Consequently it is illegal to sell trout fishing rights and the trout fishery is in essence, owned by the public.

Apart from being a healthy outdoor recreation, trout fishing is a multi million-dollar tourist attraction for international and domestic tourism, a point the Prime Minister as Minister of Tourism should heed said Ken Sims.

“There are so many reasons why commercial trout aquaculture is a bad idea, it really is a no-brainer,” he added. "Diseases in trout farms, incentives for black markets and poaching, use of public water, organic effluent, and farm escapees ruining the genetic makeup of evolved wild fisheries are just some. In addition trout farming economically has little value as markets are saturated. Overseas advice is that trout farming is capital intensive, high risk and poor economics."

Ken Sims said it was common knowledge the president of the National Party is a major shareholder in a corporate fishery company who would be willing to risk trout farming.

"The latest, current, uncontrolled Biosecurity incursion of a new organism infecting trout, salmon and native fish within NZ should give this Government a ‘heads-up’, but if plans to include trout farming are true, then greed and short-sightedness seems paramount.”

Trout fishing was under threat from current land use and waste management practices that are unsustainable and are causing permanent damage to the public fishery. "Trout farming would be the death knell for a public resource and a major tourist attraction," he said.

NZFFA had enquired of National's plans on trout farming but had received no reply.
"We even personally requested the Prime Minister for policies on this, without receiving the courtesy of a response."

The NZFFA was apolitical and impartial but policies of trout farming allied with a signalled increase in unsustainable land practices plus pollution from town and country had left the organisation and its clubs with no option but utilise MMP and give their party vote to a recreational-friendly ‘minor party’ this election.

Minor parties such as United Future are promoting strong, unambiguous policies aiming to protect the heritage of public rivers and trout fishing.

Ken Sims said the words of the late JF Kennedy, who said “Each generation must deal anew with the raiders, with the scramble to use public resources for private profit and with the tendency to prefer short-run profits to long-run necessities. The battle to preserve the common estate is far from won.” were becoming more and more applicable to New Zealand.



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