Category Archives: environment

Passing the Baton at Fish & Game

Martin Taylor (left) to take up the role of Fish & Game NZ Chief Executive following the retirement of Bryce Johnson (right).
Martin Taylor (left) will take up the role of Chief Executive at Fish & Game NZ when Bryce Johnson (right) retires at the end of October.

Fish & Game New Zealand has recently appointed Martin Taylor to take over as Chief Executive from the organisation’s long serving head, Bryce Johnson.

Martin Taylor has wide experience in the corporate sector, including as Chief Executive of the Aged Care Association.  He has also been chair of the Wellington Fish & Game council and is presently working for the Capital Coast DHB as a project manager.

The chair of Fish & Game’s New Zealand Council, Lindsay Lyons, is delighted with Mr Taylor’s appointment. “Martin’s the right person for this demanding role.  He’s highly qualified, an experienced leader and politically astute,” Mr Lyons says.

“He’s also a mad keen angler and loves the outdoors and New Zealand’s wild places, so from our point of view, this is a perfect combination.  We are delighted to have him on board.”

Martin Taylor will take up the role of Chief Executive in November following the retirement of the highly respected Bryce Johnson. Bryce has held the position since Fish & Game was established in 1991, and was previously the first national director of the Acclimatisation Societies (Fish & Game’s predecessor) from 1980.

Lindsay Lyons, says Bryce Johnson’s decision to retire is a significant landmark for the organisation. “Bryce is the face of Fish & Game New Zealand and has been a hugely effective leader and advocate.  He has been in his role since Fish & Game’s inception and his hard work has helped shape it into a widely respected and effective environmental organisation.”

Bryce has placed Fish & Game at the forefront of the battle to protect New Zealand’s waterways and wild places. His passion and tenacity have secured 12 of the 15 Water Conservation Orders that currently provide ‘national park’ levels of protection to high value waterways. He also led the way, challenging the ever increasing intensification of agriculture, especially the rapid expansion of dairying and it’s damaging impact on NZ’s rivers and lakes.

Fish & Game under Bryce’s leadership has spearheaded the debate about declining freshwater quality, bringing the issue into the public domain, where it could play a role influencing the upcoming general election.

While Martin Taylor will have big waders to fill, he will lead an organisation that boasts a strong foundation for protecting the interests of anglers and hunters alike, as well as those with an interest in protecting New Zealand’s wild places.

I look forward to the continuation of Fish & Game’s robust role protecting the environment.

 

 

Science Says Fish Need More Water

Scientists have provided evidence supporting what many anglers have known for years – taking water from rivers has a negative impact on fish quality. The new knowledge, based on 15 years of research led by the Cawthron Institute, has global implications for irrigation and hydro-electric development, and recreational fishing.

Project leader and Cawthron Institute freshwater fisheries scientist Dr John Hayes says a river acts like a conveyor belt delivering drifting food to waiting fish.  “We’ve shown that as flow declines, the diminished power and transport capacity of a river results in less drifting food. A new computer model that our team developed predicts that this translates to fewer, or more slowly growing, fish.”

Dr Hays says the insights from the model are a caution to regional councils and the public to be more careful when allocating water – in New Zealand, regional councils may need to revise minimum flows upward and water allocation limits downward.

Fish & Game’s Chief Executive Bryce Jonson says Cawthron are to be applauded for producing such sound, world-leading scientific research.  Mr Johnson says the government needs to heed the research findings and bring in stronger water management rules and reconsider its support for intensive farming and irrigation. “At the moment, the government is pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into irrigation as a subsidy for intensive farming and ignoring the impact this is having on the environment and fish, including native species.”

“It is ludicrous that irrigators now want to take water from rivers and use it to replenish aquifers that have been over exploited. All this has a huge impact on the environment,” says Johnson.

“This report should be a wake-up call for the government. It has huge implications for tourism, farming and hydro-electric development and greater recognition needs to be given to freshwater fisheries,” Johnson concluded.

Neil Deans, technical policy adviser to the Minister for the Environment, says up-to-date technical information is vital for policy development, and such research can help inform water resource management.

“The quality of Dr Hayes’ and his collaborators’ research is internationally recognised, If we are going to set limits, then they should be effective in meeting community aspirations and as up-to-date as they can be.”

“This has implications for both environmental protection and for the allocation of water and its quality,” said Deans.

Go to the Cawthron Institutes’ project specific webpage to find the full story:
www.cawthron.org.nz/coastal-freshwater/news/2016/trout-and-native-fish-need-more-water-we-think-research-finds

Listen to Dr Hayes speaking on Radio NZ:
www.radionz.co.nz/audio/player/201804964

Cartoonist Al Nisbet illustrates the problem with freshwater management in NZ
Cartoonist Al Nisbet illustrates the problem with freshwater management in NZ

Farming Leaders Have Responsibility to Public’s Rivers too

Tukituki River - Dam Proposal
Tukituki River – Dam Proposal

Farming organisations, self-interest irrigation lobbyists, plus the Minister of Primary Industries are being irresponsible towards the crisis of New Zealand’s depleted and degraded rivers and streams says a national trout fishing advocacy.

President of the NZ Federation of Freshwater Anglers David Haynes was reacting to a call by Irrigation NZ’s CEO Andrew Curtis over the experimental Hinds/Hekeao Managed Aquifer Recharge project that would deplete the Rangitata River. He also referred to another call by Hawkes Bay Federated Farmers president Will Foley over the controversial Hawkes Bay Ruataniwha scheme for the Tukituki River in which Foley commented that since 196 unidentified farmers had signed up to the currently unapproved scheme, that it was financially viable and must immediately proceed.

“The Hawkes Bay Federated Farmers call ignores that the only people so far identified as contributing to the dam’s costs are the public, i.e. taxpayers and ratepayers.”

David Haynes said the contribution the public would make was tantamount to a giant subsidy for private profit while the public’s river, already under severe environmental stress, would be sacrificed. Federated Farmers claim that the Tukituki catchment area would “enjoy improved environmental outcomes” was that of a “cock-eyed optimist” contradicting all known science about the impact of dams.

David Haynes also singled out the Minister of Primary Industries Nathan Guy who said it was time the public stopped blaming agriculture for the degraded state of rivers. “Why would the public illogically do that when it’s well documented that intensive agriculture is a major cause of degradation of the public’s waterways?”

He said it was time for government ministers to realise they were fundamentally public servants meant to be serving the general public interest of not only today’s generation but future generations. “How will Messrs Curtis, Foley and Guy explain to their children and grandchildren that they were party to the degradation of rivers that now were unswimmable?”

All New Zealanders, town and country, from politicians to farmers needed to take collective responsibility to have a “land and water ethic” to restore waterways. Many farmers were responsible and practised a sense of stewardship but a significant number failed to do so. Horizons Regional Council, covering southern Hawkes Bay, Manawatu, Rangitikei and other rural areas recently revealed that of 482 farms with Sustainable Land Use Plans, exactly half had done nothing to fulfil obligations or had made less than 20 percent of planned progress. The plans, designed to limit the effects of large-scale hill erosion and prevent silt run-off and deposition in rivers, were free to farmers, but cost council ratepayers between $12,0009and $18,000 each to conduct but were voluntary.

David Haynes said the abdication of environmental responsibility by Federated Farmers was graphically illustrated by national Federated Farmers president William Rolleston who claimed on National Radio “we do actually have very clean rivers in New Zealand – there is no doubt.”

“Rolleston’s bizarre claim flew in the face of concerns by the Parliamentary commissioner for the Environment and all the published studies by independent scientists. It’s apparent the deep concerns held by the public over degraded rivers, fails to even rate as an issue for NZ’s agribusiness spokesmen.”

David Haynes said the science underpinning the truly degraded state of the public’s waterways had been very clear for a long time, pin-pointing that agricultural intensification particularly monocultures of mega-sized corporate dairy farms, was usually the major cause.

A ground-breaking report just published by the respected Cawthron Institute and NIWA proved conclusively that the over-allocation of water extracted for intensive agriculture, was directly affecting the ecosystem of public rivers, including vital macro-invertebrate populations that were food sources for native fish and the public’s trout and salmon stocks.

“Denials about the deplorable state of many rivers both in quantity of flow and quality, by agri-business representatives is frustrating since it’s selfish, self-serving and short-sighted.”

David Haynes said fish health was tantamount to the “canary in the coal mine. “Not only are many lowland rivers rated as unfit for swimming but once favoured swimming and fishing rivers, were dry riverbeds, mute testimony to the degradation and at times total destruction. Anglers know because they’re out there, seeing diminished fish size and numbers, and essentially acting as environmental watchdogs for the public” he said.

 

Source – Scoop Media

Fish & Game Withdraw from Forum

irrigation system
Fish & Game resign from the Land and Water Forum so they can once again independently advocate for freshwater in NZ.

On the back of recent disappointing news about the quality of freshwater in NZ (revealed in the Government’s Environment Aotearoa 2015′ report), fly fishermen now have to face up to the implications of the withdrawal of Fish & Game New Zealand from the most significant collaborative body responsible for driving the process of freshwater reform in this country – The Land and Water Forum.

Fish & Game Chief Executive Bryce Johnson said changes to the Forum’s rules around membership and restrictions on the ability to speak out had “essentially compelled us to resign”.

“After five years its now clear the Government’s goals all along have been about natural resource development, not about environmental protection. They make the growth strategies, and add on the end the words ‘within environmental limits’.”

“This process is more superficial than substantial. For industry, it’s ideal to have all the environmental groups neatly corralled inside the tent, inside the process,” Johnson observed.

While leaving the Land and Water Forum will now allow Fish & Game to once again independently advocate for our freshwater resources, it must be a serious concern for anyone interested in water quality, that the process responsible for safeguarding our waterways could be so seriously flawed.

Of the 150 recommendations already made by the Forum over the last five years the Government still has not identified an implementation plan. In fact many have accused the Government of simply ‘cherry picking’ recommendations to suit their agenda.

Environment Minister Nick Smith responded saying he was not surprised by Fish and Games’ departure, but he was disappointed. Dr Smith said a ‘good number’ of the forum’s recommendations had been acted on.

“I don’t have the exact list in front of me… what I can say is that simplistically counting off the numbers does not give due respect to the really important recommendations around national policy statements, around the National Objectives Framework, around the funding for cleanups, around putting in place a reporting system around the quality of our freshwater, most of those have been implemented.”

So where to from here for the Forum and the quality of freshwater in New Zealand? The Government really needs to respond positively and deliver substantive practical change that results in improved water quality. It needs to fully embrace the founding principles of the Forum and deliver outcomes that satisfy the long term social, recreational and economic benefits of clean freshwater.

You can hear Fish & Game CEO Bryce Johnson speak about the withdrawal in an interview on Radio New Zealand >

James Barnett

Environment Report 2015

Most trout fishermen will be interested in understanding more about the quality of freshwater in New Zealand. However they might be a little unsettled to read a report recently released by the Ministry for the Environment and Statistics New Zealand.

A landmark national environmental report – Environment Aotearoa 2015 – reveals the overall state of our environment. While some environmental indicators are looking positive, the same can’t be said for the quality of the water in many of our rivers.

Government Statistician Liz MacPherson said the report gives a clear and independent overview, based on the best-quality information available.“Environment Aotearoa 2015 tells us the shape our environment is in – from the atmosphere above New Zealand to our oceans, and everything in between.”

Secretary for the Environment Vicky Robertson said the report provides a candid view showing where things are improving and where our environment is under pressure. An area showing clear improvement is carbon monoxide emissions from transport, which are declining. Overfishing in our seas and harmful airborne particles released from home heating are also declining.

The report finds deterioration for areas like coastal sea-level rise, concentrations of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere, populations of some native plants and animals, and river water quality from intensive land use.

“New Zealanders’ past and present activities are putting pressures on our environment,” Ms Robertson said. “These pressures are growing as our population increases, our economy develops, and our lifestyles change.”

“The evidence in this report will help communities, central and local government, iwi, and business to make choices about how we manage our natural resources.”

The report uses robust data from hundreds of sources, and follows international best practice for environmental reporting. The report is supported by interactive web pages containing trend and regional data.

Environment Aotearoa 2015 was produced in the spirit of the Environmental Reporting Act passed on 24 September. Future reports will be part of a three-year cycle, in which individual aspects of the environment are assessed as well as an overview, such as Environment Aotearoa 2015. The next report focuses on fresh water and will be released next year.

See the key findings and background from the Government’s website.

See also:
Environment Aotearoa 2015 – report
Environment Aotearoa 2015 – infographic
Environmental indicators Te taiao Aotearoa – indicator webpages

James Barnett
(Quotes were taken from official gov media release)