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Trout Anglers Advocacy Opposes Mackenzie Basin Dairying Intrusion A nation-wide trout and rivers advocacy organisation has backed the Environmental Defence Society in its fight to save the Mackenzie Basin’s ecological values from the threat of wholesale irrigation and large scale dairy conversions.

The NZ Federation of Freshwater Anglers’ president Graham Carter said the underlying principle was about the short-sightedness and folly of allowing dairying expansion in low rainfall areas such as the Mackenzie Basin. Simons Pass Station near Lake Pukaki has appealed against Environment Court declarations that require discretionary land use consents would be required before dairy expansion can occur on the property. Simons Pass Station, a mix of freehold and Crown pastoral lease land, comprising 9,700 ha near Lake Pukaki in the Mackenzie Country, is currently in tenure review.

The Environmental Defence Society is opposing the dairy corporate’s appeal. “At stake here is the environment and public values that particularly because the area is of low rainfall of around 500-600 mms, makes it very vulnerable to irrigation demands,” said Graham Carter. In addition leaching of nitrates will inevitably occur from mega-dairying operations thus contaminating soil and waterway values, vitally important to fish populations both native and trout.

The New Zealand Federation of Freshwater Anglers said it was time for New Zealand to wake up to the continuing destruction of freshwater ecosystems. “The continuing escalation of dairying for the sake of unbridled growth is stupid in the extreme,” he said. “It has to stop now.” Graham Carter said previous Prime Minister John Key set out to double New Zealand’s primary exports by 2025 with the emphasis on dairying expansion. “The previous government undemocratically took over Environment Canterbury (ECAN) to facilitate dairying growth.”

Graham Carter said the detrimental impact flowed downstream in time. “A key impact is the downstream nutrient enrichment of Lake Benmore, which has already started as a result of existing dairying conversions .Allowing more enrichment will push the lake closer to a tipping point where ecosystems crash. Who has the foresight to see this?"

A report by the then Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, Dr Jan Wright, painted a grim picture for New Zealand's lakes, rivers and streams. The conversion of low-intensity sheep and beef farming to dairying had led to increased leaching of nitrogen and phosphorous into waterways, which accelerated the growth of weeds and algae, and worsened quality. “The dairying expansion must be halted and the industry told to focus on added value,” said Graham Carter. “Otherwise the public’s rivers, lakes and streams will be lost.”

He added it should not be forgotten that all three parties of the current coalition government pledged to clean up the steady deterioration of the public’s waterways. “Not only will rivers and streams be lost but New Zealand’s clean and green, 100% pure marketing brands will by big fat fibs and lack credibility for exports and tourism.”

Graham Carter

President NZ Federation of Freshwater Anglers Inc

021 02600437