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Environment Canterbury Media Statements Misleading

Rasmus Gabrielsson, North Canterbury Fish and Game Chief Executive

Environment Canterbury’s (ECan) media comments on progress with the Declaration proceedings before the Environment Court relating to the Rakaia River Water Conservation Order do not provide full context, and readers could misunderstand where matters are at between the interested parties, says Rasmus Gabrielsson, Chief Executive of North Canterbury Fish and Game Council (Fish and Game).

Fish and Game, Environmental Defence Society and several other parties have been engaged with ECan for about two years over who is responsible for monitoring and managing the Rakaia Water Conservation Order. The approach agreed upon between the parties has been to seek Declarations from the Environment Court on legal questions, with ECan being the initial applicant for the Declarations. That makes sense because they manage the Rakaia River catchment’s land and water resources under the RMA.

ECan’s decision to withdraw from the proceedings is disappointing and difficult to understand. There has been no attempt to consult with other parties about their decision to withdraw and no explanation given apart from the statement to the media that issues over ECan’s statutory responsibilities as a regulator had been resolved. This is not accurate as the core questions about the full extent of ECan's statutory responsibility for monitoring and managing the Conservation Order remains unanswered.

Dr Gabrielsson said "There might be some additional delay and cost due to the ECan decision but Fish and Game intend to press ahead with the Court proceedings. Fish and Game and EDS are looking at the process options to continue proceedings as it is critically important to determine who is responsible for the Conservation Order as a first step in addressing the Rakaia River’s environmental problems".

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