A trout and salmon advocacy is alarmed at a newly released report from the Ministry for the Environment on the increasingly polluted and degraded condition of New Zealand’s public waterways, which also discloses how little is known about the amount of non-natural chemicals found increasingly in New Zealand groundwater.
Little was known about the health impact of types of non-natural chemicals being found increasingly in New Zealand groundwater a new report on New Zealand’s freshwater said.
The report also found that pollution and contamination “are slow to reverse, and some are irreversible. Loss of species and ecosystems could have significant impacts on our identity, wellbeing, cultural values, and economy.”
NZ Federation of Freshwater Anglers spokesman Ken Sims of Manawatu said the dire situation underlined the lack of political leadership on freshwater management over recent decades.
“The current coalition government has sat on its hands, commissioning report after worsening report and has produced nothing in the way of leadership or improvements in testing, reporting or standards,” he said.
“This is on top of the John Key government that since 2008 deliberately sacrificed water quality for farming intensification, especially dairy farming – even on inappropriate low rainfall land. It was championed and implemented by National’s environment ministers Amy Adams and Nick Smith, by rewriting the RMA and relaxing environmental standards”.
Ken Sims said it was not only central governments that were responsible for deteriorated rivers and the lack of sound knowledge.
“Most regional councils were still dominated by and act as virtual agents for the farming industry,” he said.
It was obvious from what figures existed, that regional and local councils have massively underfunded freshwater management and testing. The health of a river was best determined by the number of aquatic invertebrate insect larvae in rivers.
“But it stands out that the macro-invertebrate indexes are missing in inaction – a damming indictment of the growing mess,” he said.
Ken Sims said public opinion over the National Government’s 2008-17 tenure, reinforced before the 2017 election had given governments of the last twelve years an overwhelming public mandate to address the desperate need to act.
“In the current government, recent statements by regional minister Shane Jones, begs the question – is there a roadblock there, called NZ First?” he asked. “And to add insult to injury, the farming industry spokespeople come out and claim that the report suggests that we need more of the very things causing the greatest problems.”
The report was a sharp reminder of the publics’ expectations for their waterways and aquifer to all political parties and MPs as the country headed to a general election later in the year.
“It’s a dire situation, an abdication by successive governments and regional councils that simply isn’t being addressed politically, where it needs to be. There is a legacy issue involved and the question is – why have we not seen the crisis acted upon?” he said.
© Invertebrates and trout are the “canaries in the mine”, trout anglers the “watchdog”