Anglers unimpressed with justification for water extraction
Anglers unimpressed with justification given for water extraction.
The recent decision to allow massive amounts of Otago’s Lindis River to be extracted for irrigation and intensive farming has been labelled environmental vandalism by a national angling organization.
Dr Peter Trolove, veterinary scientist and chairman of the New Zealand Federation of Freshwater Anglers (Inc.) described the ruling to allow nearly twice the amount considered necessary to sustain instream biodiversity to be removed from the river for 25 farms as a real slap in the face for the efforts of thousands of people all over the country, fighting to restore and protect the country’s degraded rivers.
Responding to the article in The NZ Farmers Weekly November 11, 2019 – ‘Water ruling good for farmers’ he said “there have been some pretty questionable attempts at justifying such decisions in the past, but this one ranks right up there with those that defy any logic”. “Claiming to protect native fish from trout predation by extracting so much water from the river that trout can’t access them simply defies any serious examination” he added.
Firstly, the science supporting the co-existence of trout and native fish, and the fact that trout’s diet consists almost exclusively of insect life had been established in New Zealand in the 1940’s (Allen et al) and has been reproduced both here and overseas since.
Secondly, reducing flows to such trickles will have some predictable results that will affect both native fish and trout. Not only will the sediment run-off from intensive agriculture smothering the riverbed and destroying the macro-invertebrates both fish feed on not be removed by normal flow rates, and other pollutants concentrated by the low flows, but the low flows will overheat the water and combine with increased nutrients to produce toxic algal blooms and oxygen depletion.
“This is not rocket science” said Dr Trolove. “It is however entirely predictable and incredibly stupid. It is environmental vandalism for private profit and to hell with any social responsibility”. He noted that the Otago Regional Council was currently under investigation by the Environment Minister concerning their ability to adequately manage and allocate freshwater resources. The NZFFA aims to obtain the evidence presented to the Environment Court and read the legal justification for this (Environment Court) decision which on the face of it appears to lack scientific objectivity.
“The pity is, anglers both from around the country and internationally will end up paying to appeal this decision” Dr Trolove added. “This is not going to enhance their perception of the agricultural industry, at a time when the social license for intensive livestock farming is being questioned both nationally and internationally, when so many farmers are trying to improve water quality in our public waterways, and when the Government is trying to encourage the industry to participate in those practices.”
“Internationally, New Zealand’s reputation as a ‘clean, green country’ and a highly desirable angling destination is already in tatters. Decisions as ludicrous as this one will do nothing to address that” he added.