Insects Zapped by 1080 Blitz

By Ben Hope An unique New Zealand native butterfly, the forest ringlet or Dodonidia helmsi, is on the brink of extinction, according to experts back in 2016. Keen observers say a major cause could well be 1080 poison. Further explanation shows … Continue reading

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A Sour Taste

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Guest Post by Rex N. Gibson Peter Trolove is the current President of the NZ Federation of Freshwater Anglers Inc. He commutes between his home at the North Rakaia huts and a batch at Okarito. Hunting and fishing are passions … Continue reading

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Ruahine Rat Explosion Caused by DoC

Department of Conservation reports of a rat explosion in the Northern Ruahine Ranges defy credibility and show the department was “out of its depth” in wilderness management according to a sporting hunters’ organisation. Laurie Collins spokesman for the Sporting Hunters … Continue reading

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Too Many Dead Fish With Fish Farms

Fish farming has its limitations for New Zealand and contradicts the country’s clean green branding image says an aquatic veterinarian and president of the New Zealand Federation of Freshwater Anglers Dr Peter Trolove of Canterbury. Peter Trolove said a graphic … Continue reading

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A Stream with no Trout

Guest Post by Rex N. Gibson After a recent trip to North Queensland I was reminded of Slim Dusty’s 1957 classic Aussie song, “A Pub With No Beer”. It was based on a poem written back in 1944 by a … Continue reading

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Hundreds of native fish die in botched transfer

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Reproduced with kind permission of Fishing & Outdoors F&O NEWSDESK In a major setback for the fishing industry, 921 native fish died in a botched transfer project. The transfer, scheduled for earlier in July, involved the transfer of rare black … Continue reading

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Anglers Warn of Risk of 1080 Contaminated Trout

A trout and waterways advocacy organisation has warned trout fishermen to avoid eating trout from rivers which have had surrounding countryside dowsed with the highly hazardous 1080 poison. 

President of the NZ Federation of Freshwater Anglers and veterinarian Dr. Peter Trolove of Canterbury said while Fish and Game NZ had recommended to avoid eating trout from waterways in a 1080 drop area for seven days, he – from personal experience  and examination of current research –  emphasised that a week may not be enough time lapse following the use of the poison.
“There is a significant lack of data to reach any definitive conclusions,” he said. “It is potentially dangerous in its reliance on inadequate study.”
He said it appeared the only definitive study on the uptake and elimination of 1080 from rainbow trout was a Cawthron Institute Report No. 2611.
“However, this study was funded by DOC. 1080 in the treated fish was not cleared, by the time the study was abruptly ended after 120 hours. Very significantly the report’s authors recommended further studies,” said Peter Trolove who has experience overseas in the freshwater aquatic veterinarian field.
The NZ Federation of Freshwater Anglers was recently contacted by anglers concerned about the risk of a proposed 1080 drop near the lower Tongariro River, the main tributary of Lake Taupo.
Peter Trolove said he was issuing a warning because of his own experience where he caught a trout in the West Coast’s  lower Paringa River in 2014, that had a “1080 blue” dyed gut and had a fatty liver and accumulated fat in the gut typical of a farmed fish.
“There is a salmon farm in a tributary of the Paringa River upstream and it is probable this trout had been feeding on waste pellets washed down from the fish farm. The dye was only apparent after opening the fish’s gut.”
The Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) following the Cawthron Report published a risk assessment to advise the Department of Conservation and local authorities on the food safety of eating trout from a 1080 treatment area.
“This MPI risk assessment relied heavily on the inconclusive Cawthron report and played down the risks of trout ingesting 1080 pellets directly. Other elements of risk are the take-up of 1080 by trout, the half-life of 1080 in pellets, and the amount of trout that might be eaten by an adult or child.”
In 2016 the then CEO of Fish and Game NZ Bryce Johnson called on DOC to do more on the 1080 risk as Fish and Game had trialled how attractive 1080 baits were to trout and had found trout will eat them.
The Federation recent wrote to the Minister of Agriculture Damien O’Connor about the matter. The minister replied that MPI does not have records indicating trout ingest 1080 pellets directly and encouraged anglers to report any findings in the future so they may be investigated.
The Minister also stated that MPI does not regulate food safety of trout, however it acts in an advisory role to support local authorities and Fish and Game. He added MPI stood by its 7 day precautionary period but suggested the Federation could advise a more precautionary approach if it thought necessary.
“The NZ Federation of Freshwater Anglers reiterates Fish and Game’s call in 2016 on the Department of Conservation to do more to reduce the threat 1080 poison poses to people gathering food from waterways and concurs with Fish and Game’s view that DOC’s present effort is inadequate and self-serving,” said Peter Trolove.
In the absence of robust science NZFFA recommended “catch and release” be practiced in catchments affected by 1080 aerial poisoning and asked anglers to report any cases where trout may have taken poisoned baits.
Contact: Peter Trolove (03) 324 2779 or  029 779 0295
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River Ecosystems Declining Say Anglers

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by Tony Orman The public’s trout fishery is severely declining in a number of rivers due to a decline in both flow and water quality says a national trout fishing advocacy. In his annual report retiring president of the New … Continue reading

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Total Ecosystem Vital with 1080 say Hunters

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The total ecosystem should be the top priority in assessing the damage by 1080 poison aerial drops says the Sporting Hunters Outdoor Trust. Laurie Collin, a spokesman was responding to news that the wild deer by-kill from a 2017 poison … Continue reading

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Eco Cartoon

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Appropriate under Commentary

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Are trout a threat to native fish species?

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By Rex N. Gibson This is a situation where you have to see the forest, and not just the individual trees; or more correctly see the ecosystem and not just individual species interactions. Brown trout (three in total) were first … Continue reading

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The Price of Apathy

by Ben Hope Apathy is commonplace. Just think back to general elections where usually about one million New Zealanders did not vote or were just so disinterested they didn’t register as voters. Recent Fish and Game elections showed a minority … Continue reading

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Gun Control Is a Misfire

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This from The American Conservative in 2016 – it’s not only New Zealand wresting with gun control What liberals and the NRA both get wrong. By MARC COOPER • March 21, 2016 The most fervent and polarized sides in the renewed debate on … Continue reading

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Anti-Wild Animal Phobia Creates Imaginary Pests

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by Ben Hope   In 1958, a Californian Professor of Zoology Dr William Graf, after studying New Zealand’s wild deer situation on behalf of the US state of Hawaii wrote that there existed “an anti-exotic wild animal phobia — not … Continue reading

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More People Cause More Man-made Climate Change

Guest Opinion by Tony Orman

Everyone is hot and bothered about global warming. It’s a polarising topic. Everyone talks about it even the Pope Francis who said a year or so ago, that climate change “represents one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day.” 
However the proverbial butcher, the baker, the candle stick maker, even scientists, cannot agree on global warming. And when “the tumult and the shouting dies and the Captains and the Kings depart” there remains one rarely debated factor – people. 
Indeed, politicians and bureaucrats blame animals both farmed and even wild. In 2007 the Department of Conservation’s director-general bizarrely blamed wild deer for farting and belching.  They need to be exterminated he ranted.
Animals are an easy target. They cannot argue back in defence, but people can. The reason? Deer and cows do not vote but people do. Yet it is people that are the cause of the problem – or more particularly numbers of people. 
People fart and belch just like cows and deer. Furthermore people drive cars which belch emissions and jet planes fart “gases and particles  — which contribute to climate change.” Humans demand resources, flush toilets, use chemicals and throw away garbage. Deer, sheep and cattle don’t.
The more people the greater demand for resources, more cars and planes, more sewers, more rubbish and more emissions.
Climate change through ice ages and warm periods has always been. But true extent of a climate change crisis is not in the natural dynamics but in that induced by people. 
Controversial author Paul Erlich warned about the people problem in his 1968 book “The Population Bomb”  And in New Zealand about the same time – almost 50 years ago – a few enlightened environmentalists  such as “Save Manapouri” conservationist and New Zealand Deerstalkers Association president John B Henderson publicly warned about the folly of “further proliferating the hordes of humanity.”
True the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) briefly acknowledged that “Globally, economic and population growth continued to be the most important drivers of increases in CO2 emissions from fossil fuels.”  But it was a rare comment and went unnoticed. 
But in New Zealand, politicians’ emissions of hot air reach hyperbolic heights. Decades of politicians have blithely boasted of GDP and population growth rates seeming oblivious and unconcerned New Zealand’s population is now just under five million.
Five million is significant for John B Henderson 50 years ago said “it is high time New Zealanders set themselves an upper limit — I have no hesitation in tabling my own estimate – it is 5 million people.”
But New Zealand still has no population policy. Government pursues growth with a maniacal passion and no control. Serious regional imbalances exist, most graphically illustrated by Auckland busting at the seams, demanding more taxpayers’ money for roading and motorways, upgrading of sewers and stormwaters etc., and sprawling outwards over fertile soils. Tauranga, once an attractive modest city, is in danger of becoming a clone of the Auckland conurbation as its urban sprawl in cancerous fashion engulfs productive farmland.
Immigration proceeds apace swelling numbers and diluting and eroding the Kiwi culture evolved from two ethnic groups that developed into a bi-cultural society.
Surprisingly the Green Party who you might expect to champion addressing the population bomb have been relatively quiet. Only NZ First initially drew attention to immigration. Belatedly The Green and Labour parties eventually supported it. Election 2017 is now history and there is no realisation from the Greens/NZ First/Labour coalition that New Zealand desperately needs a population policy.
Google “population clock nz”. I did on Saturday 27July at midday. The population was 4,97 million – perilously close to John B Henderson’s 5 million limit. New Zealand’s population is estimated to increase by one person every 8 minutes.  
But the sharp reality is more people and more consumers equal more resource  demand, force more costly infrastructure demand and make more emissions. More, more and more emissions.
The planet cannot tolerate infinite growth in numbers of people. That is the crux of environmental crosses whether it’s global warming or other environmental issues. Human population is the crisis. Yet our politicians ignore it.
Footnote: Tony Orman (MNZIS) is a Marlborough-based author, conservationist, journalist and former town and country planner
© Wild deer got blamed by DOC for causing global warming!
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Marlborough Anglers Scold Fisheries Minister For Breaking Election Promise

Special Report

A Marlborough region recreational sea fishing group has challenged the Minister of Fisheries Stuart Nash over the Labour Party’s 2017 election promise to investigate the quota management system, often referred to as QMS. On February 5, the minister announced in the “NZ Herald” that he had abandoned Labour’s election pledge to hold an independent review of the fisheries quota system.

“It is of deep concern that you could dishonour this pledge by a simple comment in the “NZ Herald” in February. So much for political integrity and honour,” said Marlborough Recreational Fishers Association (MRFA) chairman Peter Watson in a letter to government.

In his reply to a MRFA letter Minister Nash stated he had strong faith in “the competent, knowledgeable people” in the Ministry. However MRFA said his comment lacked both reality and credibility. 

While respecting that there are some competent officers in the Ministry, the experience of MRFA over the issues of the Marlborough Sounds blue cod closure in 2008 and the subsequent mismanagement and poor decision making of the ministry, had left MRFA with little confidence in the bureaucracy.

“To further undermine confidence has been kahawai depletion, King Salmon farming issues, discriminatory set net bans on the recreational public and inability to deal – or show any interest – with the basic problem in the Sounds of habitat/ecosystem degradation. Frankly it has shown the Ministry to often be woefully incompetent,” said MRFA.

The Transferable Quota Management System (QMS) had privatised the resource  with corporate companies reselling in ‘wheeling and dealing’ buying out quota, allowing corporate companies to accumulate and aggregate quota and thereby dominate the resource. Fish dumping, misreporting of catches and corporate company refusal to allow observation cameras were examples of failure of the QMS.  In 2017, MRFA and other recreational groups were therefore heartened by Labour’s pre-election promise to conduct an independent credible enquiry into the QMS.

“It is of deep concern that you could dishonour this pledge by a simple comment in the “NZ Herald” in February. So much for political integrity and honour.”

Other groups have also expressed deep disappointment.

Council of Outdoor Recreation Council of New Zealand chairman Andi Cockroft said fisheries minister Stuart Nash on 5 February in the “New Zealand Herald” admitted he had abandoned Labour’s election pledge to hold an independent review of the fisheries quota system. Greenpeace’s Russel Norman said the broken promise was the work of New Zealand First and its MP Shane Jones, who received a $10,000 donation from corporate fishing company Talley’s in 2017.

Andi Cockroft said the “about-turn” by Minister Nash reflected the power and influence of the corporate commercial fishing companies over successive fisheries ministers.

MRFA in its letter said “Yes Minister – the classic TV comedy “Yes Minister” in which bureaucrats fool the cabinet ministers – was alive and well, in Wellington.  

MRFA said corporate companies held far too much sway with government.

“The ministry understandably comes under strong pressure from the corporates. It is public knowledge that the corporates donate to political parties and individual MPs.”

Newshub on 1 February this year reported “Talley’s donated $10,000 to Mr Jones’ 2017 campaign. And while Mr Jones accepts that, and that he’s mates with Talley’s boss, Sir Peter Talley, he says it doesn’t mean anything.”

From the internet Nov 12, 2018 “It’s little wonder that, once an MP, Jones received donations worth $10,000 from both Sealord and Talley’s. In fact, the latter also bankrolled the new-and-improved populist Jones’ campaign in Whangarei for NZ First last year.”  There are also allegations of corporate fishing companies donating to other MPs. Other MPs beside Shane Jones received campaign donations from corporate fishing companies. 

MRFA said if the Labour-led government had honoured its 2017 election promise to conduct an independent credible enquiry then the questionable relationships would have been open for public scrutiny.

MRFA said .any of the management failures in the current QMS system had been swept under the carpet and certainly cannot be addressed by the ministries, i.e. Ministry for Primary Industries or Fisheries New Zealand, because they have been responsible for the failures.

© Marlborough Sounds
© Kahawai have been severely depleted in Marlborough 

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Beware the Ides of March – A Black Day for NZ

Contributed by a lawful member of the NZ firearm owning public

The Ides of March – it is said to beware of them.  In ancient Rome, the Romans considered the Ides of March (March 15) as a deadline for settling debts. But if you’ve heard of the Ides of March, it’s probably due to William Shakespeare. In Shakespeare’s play “Julius Caesar”, a soothsayer attracts Caesar’s attention and tells him, “Beware the ides of March.” Caesar ends up dismissing the soothsayer, saying “He is a dreamer; let us leave him. Pass.” Two acts later, Caesar is assassinated on the steps of the Senate.

On March 15th  2019 an Australian born leftist struck a blow against the lawful gun-owning community of New Zealand from which we may never fully recover.

In the immediate aftermath of the heinous killings at two Christchurch mosques New Zealand’s inexperienced “accidental” Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, recognized and seized the opportunity for an orgy of virtue signalling unparalleled in the world to that date. 

Donning a Muslim Hijab “as a sign of respect” the Prime Minister “led the Nation” in assuring the, so far, the small Muslim community of New Zealand that “they are us”.  It is abundantly clear that a majority of them don’t actually want to be “us” and prefer to maintain their distinctive clothing and uncompromising “religion” with its hatred of gays and treatment of women as second class citizens.  

It became bizarre. All this was brushed aside, ignored, as Radio New Zealand was ordered to play the adhan or call to prayer and submission “La ilaha illa Allah” (There is no God but Allah) in our still nominally Christian country.

Almost immediately after Jacinda Adern (mindless of her huge carbon footprint) jetted off to bask in the adulation of those two small-man titans of international virtue signalling President Macron of France (approval rating barely 30% up from 23% late last year) and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada (whose approval rating is “hideous” at -27%). 

Whilst many in New Zealand lauded Ardern for her “caring and compassion” a significant number of the more worldly-wise were not so fooled and looked on in disbelief that a Prime Minister could be so un-self-aware as to be pictured with two such soy boy loser politicians on the international stage.

Of far more and lasting significance than her pandering to Islam was the ban that Jacinda Ardern immediately announced on “all the guns used in the Christchurch shooting” and the ban on the “manifesto” of Brenton Tarrant which laid out in considerable detail why he did what he did and answered many of the questions the public had a right to ask. This simultaneous attack not only on entirely innocent, law-abiding, licenced gun owners and on the opportunity for the public to gain an understanding of why this horrible attack took place on New Zealand soil, is deeply disturbing and highly suspicious. Some have argued that Ardern is following a script written by the hard left, anti-gun activists which seeks to disarm the law-abiding worldwide and make gun owners into pariahs. 

Whether this will be successful in New Zealand remains to be seen. New Zealand has had a strong “gun culture” since Captain James Cook first arrived here and firearms are “Taonga” for Maori  –  good luck convincing them to give up their treasure.

Now, four months on from the Christchurch shooting, we have a fairly good idea the way in which the Government is intending to penalize the law-abiding but absolutely no idea of what, if anything, they are proposing to do about illegal firearms used by the growing criminal gang fraternity and organized crime. The arrival of violent deported biker gang members from Australia, some of whom may have international gang associations with such groups as MS13 (who make the MM and BP look like a bunch of pussies), is a big concern. But the government thinks that confiscating semi-auto sporting rifles, many of which have been owned entirely without incident for decades is the most important priority and will somehow “keep us safe” – dream on!

One senior police officer, who told us he is “very experienced,”  said on TV the other day that “taking these semi-auto guns off the streets” will mean we are all safer. How does one rise to a senior rank in the police while spouting such rubbish?  

As a lawful gun owner of unblemished record for more than 50 years I have to tell him that these guns were never “on the streets” and mouthing Tony Blair’s stupid and offensive remark following the Dunblane incident in 1996, does no favours for his credibility. The only time I have ever seen an AR15 “on the streets” it has been in the hands of a member of the biggest gang in the country. Weren’t the gang just all over the place following the mosque shooting and, ask yourselves, to what purpose exactly?!

Among measures in the second round of gun law changes just announced are reducing the licence period from 10 years to five. Going to a ten-year licence from the lifetime licence produced no measurable effect and no benefit so we can expect the same with this pointless change except, of course, an increase in cost and the bureaucracy so beloved of left-wing governments. An attempt will be made to register all guns over a five year period. Registration schemes have been tried and found to be without value in numerous countries. Canada spent $2 billion on their Bill C68 (against the advice they sought from the New Zealand police) before abandoning the system as ineffective and a waste of resources in 2012.  A number of other measures have been proposed which will achieve precisely nothing and which will, hopefully, not survive the proper Select Committee process denied to the most contentious measure in New Zealand’s firearms history.  

It is worth noting that the police do not maintain a Register of Stolen Firearms. So if they happen to come across an illegally held firearm with its serial number intact in the course of their work, they have no idea where it came from or who it legitimately belonged to. Such a register would be small, not a great many guns are stolen each year, easily maintained, accurate and might very well have some practical use in solving crimes. The government and police don’t seem to think this would be worth the effort. Why not?

Also not mentioned in the latest round of law changes was the long-overdue removal of administration of the Arms Act from the police. It is the job of the police to deal with criminals. The vast majority of licenced shooters are NOT criminals and should, therefore be of no concern to the police unless they come to their attention in some other matter. Police do not issue drivers licences but deal effectively with motoring offences. We could expect a much more effective and less costly system of licencing if firearms licences were handled by an independent contractor which would free up police resources to concentrate on criminals.

Of course, all these new laws are going to cost the taxpayer. The cost will be vast – make no mistake of that. Two hundred million dollars has been budgeted for the woefully misnamed “buy back” which indicates to me that the government does not expect a high degree of compliance. In the last week or so the press and radio have begun to question whether the expenditure of such huge sums of taxpayers money on virtue signalling legislation which the large body of overseas experience shows, will achieve very little if anything at all. Most certainly it will not do anything “to keep us all safe” and is a waste of scarce financial resources. This is a little bit of good news.

When the public wake up to the fraud that is being perpetrated upon us by the Ardern Government they may well be “a little bit miffed.” Let us hope that awakening happens before next year’s election.

Footnote: For understandable reasons, the writer requested his/her name not be published
Editor’s note: For some reason, the media seem to have missed that the tragic mosque shooting took place on the “Ides of March”. Was it deliberate as to date or coincidence?

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Nitrates: Today’s Hemlock

By Rex N. Gibson

Are our nitrate laden water supplies killing us? Sadly New Zealand now has one of the highest bowel cancer rates in the world; and it is growing. How is “God’s Own country”, of just 4.8 million people, which markets tourism, and its exports, as “100% pure” (and “clean and green”) in such a medical crisis?

It’s the sort of statistic – along with other unenviable ones – which belies the marketing claims. All is not well in “God’s Own”. Governments may turn a blind eye to statistics like bowel cancer rates but many, including scientists, are deeply concerned.

On a recent dull spring morning a small group of like-minded folk met in my garage. No we weren’t plotting “the revolution”; or were we? You decide. The bench had been cleared and Victoria University’s newest scientist recruit, Dr Mike Joy, led us through the process of determining nitrate levels in bore water samples. The study was commissioned, commendably, by Fish & Game NZ.

Left: Dr Mike Joy           Right: The portable Nico real-time nitrate test unit

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Mike had previously alerted me, another executive member of the NZ Federation of Freshwater Anglers, Fish & Game NZ HQ, and the news media, to a Danish study published in the International Journal of Cancer, relating to nitrate concentrations and a significant health issue for New Zealanders; colorectal cancer (often referred to as bowel cancer). New Zealand has one of the highest colorectal cancer (CRC) rates in the world. The question is “Why?” CRC is the second highest cause of cancer death in New Zealand, over 1,200 a year.

In New Zealand, Colorectal cancers cause as many deaths each year as breast and prostate cancers combined .It also kills more than suicides and the road toll combined.

Our eclectic group around the garage bench included a Fish & Game staff member, a sculptor and environmentalist, a Fish & Game councillor (also a farmer), a retired vet with aquiculture degree qualifications, and yours truly. We all share a commitment to improving the quality of our water resource. We had collected or received 114 samples of bore (drinking) water from across Northern Canterbury (Loburn to Ashburton, Christchurch to Methven), and more were dropped off during the morning. Mike had brought and set up a portable apparatus (a Nico real-time test unit) for measuring nitrate levels.

So, what did the Danes find? Dr Jörg Schullehner’s team from the Department of Public Health at Aarhus University said “Our study shows that people who were exposed to the highest concentration of nitrate in drinking water (above 9.3 mg per litre of water) had a 15% greater risk of getting CRC”.

They assessed nitrate exposure among 2.7 million adults based on 200,000 drinking water analyses from 1978 to 2011, and included 1.7 million individuals with the highest exposure levels in their main analysis. That was a very robust study. The cancer risks remained significant even at low levels of nitrate deemed acceptable by current drinking water standards.

This standard was 50 mg nitrate per litre of water, but the increased risk of cancer started at just 3.8mg/L of water. Schullehner added “Today, the problem is mainly concentrated in the small private wells, as well as places with high nitrate leaching and where the local soil and geological conditions mean that nitrate can more easily be leached to the groundwater”. This exactly parallels the problem in New Zealand’s intensive dairying areas.

Left: Sample testing                                                     Right: Recording

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Each sample was tested and the results tabulated. Fifty-eight of the 114 registered readings were above the current threshold for potentially increased cancer risk; almost exactly half (50.8%). Aarhus University gave 3.8mg/L as the “lethal” point. Many of our Canterbury’s samples exceeded this significantly!  Dr Joy said “the sad thing was that the results of the random sample came as no surprise”. Fish and Game’s chief executive Martin Taylor stated that the results showed “the cows are coming home to roost. Some detractors will say this is scaremongering. It is not!”

If the drinking water (nitrate) levels have the potential to kill us, or at least give us cancer, then what are the rivers doing to kayakers, rafters, picnickers and anglers who use these waterways? The health risk arises when nitrate is converted into carcinogenic substances that are known as N-nitroso compounds in the body. Colorectal cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer in Denmark and New Zealand, and the third most frequent worldwide.

The findings also back up Dr Alastair Humphrey, Canterbury’s Medical Officer of Health, whose warnings over nitrate levels go back years, largely in regard to the acute effects of “blue baby syndrome”. In this nitrates are converted in the gut of babies (and via pregnant women to foetuses) to nitrites which lock onto haemoglobin molecules and reduce the oxygen supply to developing organs, including the brain.

New Zealand’s highest levels for CRC occur from Canterbury to Southland. The highest rates occur in “Pakeha” New Zealanders. This area is now also the heartland of “industrial dairy”. Is industrial dairying “cancerous”? The Danish study gives us “direction”. New Zealand just has to follow it.

Below: Labelled Canterbury samples

Some of the drinking water samples submitted for testing.

Canterbury, Otago and Southland have regional councils whose have often been considered AWOL when it comes to environmental health issues for the last couple of decades. Nitrate leaching into depleted water catchments has increased exponentially. Many of these areas rely on subterranean aquifers for drinking water. Most people living on the region’s farms drink bore water from them, as well as those living in urban areas such as Christchurch.

The nitrate leaching from cattle urine and, especially, from over-application of water, urea and phosphate fertilizers on pastures is significant nationally. Is this a medical crisis; a true “time bomb” situation? CRC can take 20 years to appear. Perhaps the shareholders of the corporate farms (which dominate the South Island’s east coast) who reside in Remuera, Karori, Fendalton, etc. are more concerned with “the bottom line”, than the colorectal cancer levels in those who actually live on the land. It has an almost Dickensian feel to it. One commentator said “When they have felled the last tree, eaten the last steak, drained the last river, and poisoned the last aquifer, perhaps then they will realise that you cannot eat money”.

Another F & G study, also led by Mike Joy, has now shown that Northern Canterbury’s rivers are infected with two strains of anti-biotic resistant E. coli. Nick Smith’s “swimmable rivers” targets were a joke. Now they are becoming a very sick joke (a deliberate pun). When will it stop? In a bizarre moment I recalled the old line about “Drink and be merry, for tomorrow you die”. Just as Socrates was sentenced to death by drinking hemlock, will our nitrate laden water do exactly that to us?

Footnote: Rex N. Gibson is the Freshwater Spokesman for the NZ Federation of Freshwater Anglers. He is an ecologist and scientist and with a deep personal interest in rivers and public health.

Journal Reference: Jörg Schullehner, Birgitte Hansen, Malene Thygesen, Carsten B. Pedersen, Torben Sigsgaard. Nitrate in drinking water and colorectal cancer risk: A nationwide population-based cohort study. International Journal of Cancer, 2018; DOI: 10.1002/ijc.31306

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Old Whangamomona Road Under Threat

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Guest Post by Andi Cockroft It all started back in 2000 when Stratford District Council became so concerned with the state of a locally renowned bridge over the Arnold Stream. So much so that they attempted to block the bridge … Continue reading

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Saving New Zealand’s dying wild salmon fishery – 101

By Rex N. Gibson

Early this year (mid-season) I landed a sea-run salmon at Kairaki (Waimakariri mouth). My first reaction was “about time”. A lot of hours had gone into its pursuit. It became the beautiful smoked salmon on our dining table over several meals. However a “regular” who spends the salmon season at the Kairaki motor camp and fishes most days, later advised me that no other salmon were landed there for the subsequent two weeks. Have I caught my last wild salmon?

We are talking here about the second most heavily fished location in New Zealand, and one of the traditional congregating places for Canterbury’s salmon anglers! For decades an average of over 60 anglers fish there each day; January to April. For these people it is a vital part of their heritage and both their mental and social well-being.

Canterbury’s salmon fishery is one of only two Quinnat (Chinook or King) salmon fisheries established outside its Northern Pacific homeland. It thrived in Canterbury’s larger braided rivers from the Waitaki north after the introduction of these northern Californian fish in 1905 until the end of the 20th Century. It was a cornerstone of the region’s outdoor recreation, but since the 1990s something has changed to almost destroy that.

Top of the North Canterbury Fish and Game Council list of priorities is to resurrect the region’s wild salmon fishery. It was the platform on which many had been elected last October. The following tables from F & G show the dramatic decline in those fish returning to spawn. The numbers for the Central South Island are just as depressing.

North Canterbury Preliminary Spawning Escapement Numbers 2019

Poulter6351Hydra Waters476122
Cass Hills St11748Glenariffe10055
Cora Lyn2810Manuka Pt43103
One Tree Swamp1719Mellish St133120
Total Count252149Total Count855432

Peak Count x 1.5 + 50% harvest = Total Return of 336 (Waimakariri) and 908 (Rakaia) in 2019.

NB Equivalent figures in 2001 were 567 (Waimakariri) and 1,924 (Rakaia).
Figures provided by North Canterbury Fish and Game.

The spawning counts, over these two major rivers, are thus down 66%, and the Peak Count totals down 50%. This fishery now fits the recognised description of an endangered species. Less well known salmon rivers like the Hurunui, Waiau and Clarence have similar declines. The numbers for the Central South Island region (Rangitata, Orari, Opihi and Waitaki) are even more depressing.

Fish & Game face these questions: Why has this happened, what is/are the cause(s), and how can you stop the decline? F & G’s national salmon committee is advising on this. Past F & G Councils in Canterbury had faced the same problems. When they considered “solutions” they found that many licence holders were more prepared to shoot the messengers than face the possible (difficult) consequences. The “denial and hope” forces dominated.

The new Council (new because 10 of the 12 had not stood in the previous election) have unanimously decided to use science and data, rather than “political” pressure and gut feelings, to dominate their decision-making. Cawthron reports, salmon symposia notes, NZ Salmon Anglers Association data, staff surveys, and documentation dating back as far as the days when the Marine Department oversaw the fishery, provided a wealth of information.

The dramatic demise in the salmon population had occurred when several ecological limiting factors hit it at the same time:

  • Massive increases in the amount of water being taken into irrigation races following the intensification of dairying on the Canterbury plains post 1990; much was sprayed, and then evaporated, in the middle of the day without reaching plant roots.
  • This also reduced river flows and the number of braids serving as rearing habitat on their journey to the sea.
Image result for pictures irrigators
  • Virtually every water off-take had non-compliant and ineffective fish screens.
  • Rapid depletion of underground aquifers adjacent to salmon rivers (also used for irrigation). Many of these aquifers are hydraulically connected and draw their replacement from the same rivers by seepage. The Canterbury Plains are primarily porous outwash gravels from past glaciations.
  • Significant changes in land use (intensive farming practices) around several key traditional high country spawning streams.
  • Changes in chemical composition of the waterways through escalating amounts of nitrate and phosphate run off from the largely unchecked intensive farming practices.
  • Regular spraying of the river beds with glyphosate, and a cocktail of other herbicides by the regional council.
  • Major changes have been occurring in the marine species composition and physical conditions off the Canterbury coast where the salmon spend much of their lives.
  • Large releases of commercial salmon farm smolt/fry have affected both the genetics and competitive advantage of the wild salmon.
  • Increased harvesting of salmon holding up in the pools below the spawning streams.
  • The lower numbers of salmon running up the rivers to spawn in the late summer and early autumn season caused by an increasingly higher percentage being harvested.

What did these factors affect most directly?

  1. Salmon fry were not making it down to the sea. Instead they were ending up on irrigated paddocks. The most recent estimate is that 30 – 40% die in this way. Seventy percent of New Zealand’s total irrigation now occurs around the main Canterbury salmon rivers.
  2. The reduced summer water flows owing to over-abstraction, resulted in higher river water temperatures. Shallow water over hot stones heats rapidly and salmon are distressed by temperatures over 18 degrees, and will often die by 22+ degrees. Last season the Waimakariri ran at 22 degrees for most of the peak two months of the normal salmon season.
  3. The ex-salmon-farm stock were competing for both food and, eventually, spawning gravels with the wild stock at crucial times. These wild stocks are less well equipped to produce successful off-spring. They had been specifically in-bred to just grow fat quickly rather than for the variability that is essential for survival during environmental fluctuations (natural selection 101).

What are the solutions?

There is no single answer for Fish and Game to turn to for a remedy of all these issues, i.e. the over-abstraction of water, non-compliant/ineffective fish screens, changing conditions at sea, threats posed by farming practices on private land, nitrate and phosphate run-off, and the regional councils’ chemical warfare practices.

All F & G can do is look at season length, closing fishing areas, commercial releases, and daily (or season?) catch limits; which they are doing. A new regulatory model based on linking the allowable catch with the spawning return rate is also being worked on for 2020-21. They will also need to regulate in common across both F & G regions to even the impact of changes; new territory for them. F & G is thus only able to treat the symptoms of this chronically ill recreational pursuit.

So who can deal with the other factors and perhaps save the fishery? That answer is simple; it is the regional council. Environment Canterbury (ECan) is responsible for all other limiting factors, except the conditions at sea. ECan covers both of Canterbury’s Fish and Game regions. For the last nine years their government appointed commissioners have shown little inclination to take these issues seriously. Sadly environmentally unsustainable intensive farming has been the priority.

Image result for pictures irrigators new zealand

It is up to every Central South Island and North Canterbury person of voting age, with a love of clean water and outdoor recreational pursuits, to vote in an environmentally responsible council next October. It is obvious that everyone needs to fully research the candidates’ backgrounds, and vote accordingly, or the malady currently affecting New Zealand’s major sea-run salmon fishery will surely become terminal and salmon fishermen will not rest in peace.

Footnote: Rex N. Gibson is the Freshwater Spokesman for the NZ Federation of Freshwater Anglers. He is an ecologist and scientist and with a deep personal interest in rivers and outdoor recreation.

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